Colombia’s chief prosecutor said that his office is ready to seize over two thousand properties held by drug lords and illegal groups to the value of over $1.5 billion.
At a legal summit in Washington DC, Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez said his administration is aiming to seize the assets of illegal armed groups in order to dismantle them financially thus rendering them powerless.
He also hopes that in turn the seized assets will fund further legal proceedings against groups outside the law.
“At the moment we have about 300 men dedicated to the identification, systematization and analysis of the financial models of the criminal financing of assets to capture them through the seizure of these assets, through the legal mechanisms of extinction of domain and washing of Assets.” said the Prosecutor General at the installation of the Colombia United States Against Organized Crime Summit.
Nestor Humberto Martinez
The prosecutor called on the State to take a firmer hand against criminal groups in possession of valuable assets by approving reforms to the Law of Extinction of Dominion which he himself has championed along with Justice Minister Jorge Londoño.
This law provides authorities with the power to seize assets and place them in the custody of the State through an official process.
Martinez believes that the continued, systematic seizure of assets can significantly weaken criminal groups and turn the tide against organised crime in the South American country.
“We have to be more effective. Once the seizure takes place, the extinction of these assets will contribute to the financing of the State in the fight against these criminal organizations.”
Prosecutor General – Nestor Humberto Martinez
Speaking at the installation of the new bi-lateral summit, the Colombian official emphasized the value and importance of co-operation between the two sides in weakening these gangs praissing the efforts of the Deputy Attorney General of the US Kenneth Blanco and ambassador Kevin Whitaker.
“We understand that this cooperation should lead to the dismantling of these criminal organizations, not only in a renewed judicial policy, leading not only to comply with justice, but also to dismantle it economically. That has to be the renewed commitment of our bilateral cooperation,” he said.
The Prosecutor General also warned that authorities must stay vigilant regarding the expansion of these criminal organizations into the territory formerly occupied by the left-wing FARC guerrillas.
“The time to stop these new forms of violence is now, tomorrow will be too late,” reiterated Martinez.