Colombia’s Prosecutor General opened a preliminary investigation in to “emerald czar’ Victor Carranza‘s alleged financing of paramilitaries, reported local media Friday.
Carranza, Colombia’s most prominent emerald trader, spent almost four years in jail between February 1998 and December 2001 under suspicion of forming paramilitary squads. However, he was later absolved of the charges.
The new investigation centers around testimony from former paramilitaries who have come forward despite allegedly receiving death threats.
Ex-paramilitary Fredy Rendon Herrera, alias “El Aleman” directly implicated Carranza, saying “In the early years the [paramilitaries] were funded by ranchers, farmers and traders […] Later principal financing and supplies came from Victor Carranza.”
Paramilitary groups operating near Carranza’s mines were responsible for numerous crimes including targetted murders, massacres, looting, and displacement of civilians.
The emerald czar has always maintained that he was the victim of extortion by paramilitary groups operating in the regions where he owns mines.