Ten members of a Medellin gang were sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison over the forced displacement of 286 people in 2013, local media reported Wednesday.
The members of “La Loma” gang were sentenced on charges of aggravated conspiracy and forced displacement by a specialized court in Medellin. The charges were handed down after a plea agreement was reached between the prosecution and defense in February.
The incident occurred between May 5 and 8, 2013, when members of La Loma threatened and displaced 74 families from their homes in the 13th district (San Javier) in the west of Medellin.
Eighteen members of the La Loma gang had been previously arrested over the same incident. Three of those individuals were given sentences ranging from nine to 13 years. On February 9, the head of the organization, Hernan Dario Gomez, simply known as “Hernan,” voluntarily surrendered to the prosecutor’s office.
Criminal organizations such as La Loma have proliferated in recent years after the demobilization of the country’s largest paramilitary organization, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).
Particularly following the 2008 extradition of “Don Berna,” the former commander of the AUC in Medellin, local gangs that were previously financed by international drug trafficking were forced to find new revenue streams and actively began pushing regionally purchased drugs in the city’s poorer neighborhoods. At the same time, the groups increased extortion activities.
La Loma is one of a number of gangs active in Medellin’s troubled 13th district. The group is presumed to be aligned with neo-paramilitary group the “Urabeños,” Colombia’s most powerful neo-paramilitary drug trafficking organization.