An investigation has been launched into the illegal appropriation of park land owned by the Colombian state.
Following the discovery that private property had appeared within national parks, authorities are mounting an in-depth inquiry.
The first case being investigated involves an estate in Tayrona National Park which illegally grew to more than four times its original registered size.
Jorge Enrique Velez, the superintendent of notaries and registration, told Caracol Radio, “We found that 988 acres split, then became 4,200. The registration process indicates that an offense may have taken place.”
The land may have been used for farming, building or drug cultivation. Another 16 similar cases are being investigated.
Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos said, “It now seems that some families who appeared to own part of Tayrona Park may have gained these properties fraudulently.”
The irregularities were revealed during the first ever study of land registration within Colombia’s national parks. President Santos said, “We have discovered many cases of land being stolen by vultures from small-scale farmers and the state itself.”
He noted that the law provides penalties of up to 12 years in jail for those who have tried to deceive the authorities in the land restitution process.