Colombia emerald czar ‘big time narco’: Declassified US cables

Infamous businessman Victor Carranza, known in Colombia as the “Emerald Czar” because of his control over the country’s emerald exploitation, was a “big time narco” and paramilitary leader, according to declassified U.S. cables and intelligence reports from the 1990s.

The formerly secret documents were declassified at the petition of Washington-based research group the National Security Archive (NSA), that published the embassy, army and intelligence reports on its website.

The 77-year-old Carranza, who is currently under criminal investigation for his alleged involvement in the formation and leadership of paramilitary groups, was a “big-time narco” with ties to major drug traffickers, a 1991 diplomatic cable obtained by the NSA said.

Allegations that the controversial businessman from the east of Colombia was leading illegal armed groups were repeated in six other declassified documents from the embassy, the CIA, the U.S. Southern Command, the State Department and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

According to the U.S. Army in 1998, Carranza “has been involved in illegal financial activity, including drug trafficking” and “[m]ultinational oil company executives” had “expressed concern about the expansion of Carranza’s paramilitary forces.”

The NSA also got its hands on a 1997 report on massacres in the towns of Mapiripan and Miraflores in which the State Department said a paramilitary leader called “Clodomiro Agami” had admitted responsibility of the Miraflores massacre in which 12 farmers were slain.

The alias in the State Department reports is strikingly similar to “Clodomiro Agamez,” which was the alias of Carranza, according to “El Aleman,” a former commander of paramilitary umbrella organization AUC.

Despite multiple and ongoing accusation of his involvement in paramilitary groups, Carranza has never been convicted and is estimated to control approximately one third of the global emerald market.

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