Members of drug trafficking organizations are increasingly turning themselves in, said the head prosecutor of the organized crime unit of Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office on Tuesday.
Prosecutor Luis Gonzalez told newspaper El Tiempo that following the recent surrender of 17 “Rastrojos” gangsters, more are expected to follow in the Antioquia department and the Colombian eastern plains.
“There is a permanent arrival of family members, lawyers and personally written letters, wanting to leave the organizations and come to answer for their crime base, which is conspiracy to commit crimes,” said Gonzalez.
Most of the surrendering gangsters are being prosecuted for aggravated conspiracy, carrying of weapons and use of armed forces uniforms. They could receive sentences up to 17 years but the sentence may also be reduced in half, reported El Tiempo.
The mass surrender of gang members comes after several gang leaders have been arrested or turned themselves in, such as the Calle Serna brothers, the supreme leaders of drug cartel the “Rastrojos,” or the leader of the neo-paramilitary Meta Bloc, alias “Jean Claud,” who all recently surrendered to authorities.
Numerous other members of criminal syndicates have also allegedly been in contact with authorities, bargaining their surrender terms. “This dialogue has intensified in the past weeks, and in the process has brought names, identification cards and writings of 30 members outlining how they entered the organization, their voluntary stay and waiving their right to self incrimination,” Gonzalez stated.
The challenge now, once more gang members have come forward, will be to “impede other organizations from taking these territories,” Gonzalez added, referring to the grave possibility that other gangs, such as the “Urabeños,” will simply fill the vacuum left behind rather than eradicate the violence and destruction that former gang members have caused.
Allegedly 2,300 criminal gang members have been captured since last year, 754 of these have been Rastrojos members.