Founding members of the paramilitary organization the AUC, brothers Vicente and Carlos Castaño, were trustees of Colombia’s drug enforcement agency the DNE for over 15 years, El Tiempo reported Wednesday.
Despite having numerous arrest warrants against them, the Castaños appear to have been granted the estate of the DNE seized property of “Las Tangas” in the northern department of Cordoba. This farm later became emblematic of the conflict, being used as a site for AUC massacres.
Carlos Castaño allegedly utilized the Peace Foundation of Cordoba (Funpazcor) to front the ownership of the farm, even selling parts of it to fellow paramilitaries “Don Berna,” and “Monoleche.”
As late as 2007, the farm was still apparently occupied by the Castaño’s half-sister, until it was finally seized by the Prosecutor General’s Office. Only last year was the 12,355 acre property divided up and given as compensation to victims of the paramilitaries.
The current head of the DNE, Juan Carlos Restrepo, told El Tiempo that the file regarding the full history of Las Tangas will be handed over to the Prosecutor General’s Office to try and determine how the drug agency allowed the AUC to continue its presence there.
Last month, two former paramilitaries were sentenced to 30 years in prison for the massacre of 43 people at Las Tangas.
Carlos Castaño was killed in what is thought to be April of 2004 by top AUC leaders, including his brother Vicente, who were increasingly involved in the lucrative drug trafficking business.
Though assumed dead, there has been no trace of Vicente for years and he was last month sentenced in absentia to 40 years in prison for the murder of his brother.