Sons of Cuco Vanoy kidnapped

Four sons of Former AUC head Ramiro ‘Cuco’ Vanoy, extradited to the United States in May
2008 were kidnapped last month and then released two days before
Christmas, newspaper El Tiempo reported Monday.

The sons of Vanoy were abducted during the first week of
December “in a simultaneous operation at three locations,” the
newspaper said, attributing the deed to a band of criminals operating
out of Envigado, a town bordering Colombia’s second largest city Medellin.

The ‘Office of Envigado’ gang specializes in drug trafficking, contract killings and protection rackets.

According to El
Tiempo, the captors sent a message to Vanoy demanding that he turn
over to them cash and properties in Colombia and that he tell his
erstwhile subordinates to relinquish their strongholds in the
northwestern part of the country.

Vanoy once headed a militia
within the AUC federation of right-wing paramilitaries, which
ostensibly demobilized in 2006 as part of a peace process with the
government of President Álvaro Uribe.

Founded in the 1980s to
protect landowners and businesses from leftist rebels, the AUC
ultimately degenerated into a band of drug-dealing killers and
extortionists with political pretensions.

The paramilitaries
laid down their weapons under the Justice and Peace Law, a measure
promising lenient sentences to militiamen who made full confessions of
their crimes and handed over their ill-gotten wealth as reparations.

May, Uribe decided to extradite Vanoy and 14 other militia chiefs,
including AUC boss Salvatore Mancuso, to the United States to face
mainly drug-related charges, even though the warlords are blamed for
some 10,000 deaths in Colombia.

“Today, no one knows what Vanoy
had to deliver in exchange for the freedom of his sons,” El Tiempo
reported said, noting that the younger Vanoys were released Dec. 23.

Vanoy’s brother, Jose Nelson, was killed last July, while the militia chief’s oldest son, Vladimir, was slain in October.

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