Father Oscar Alberto Ortiz Henao, a priest in the San Antonio de Prado municipality near Medellin, central Colombia, was arrested Sunday, on charges of serving as second-in-command of a local paramilitary group.
Agents from the Prosecutor General’s Office arrested the priest, based on evidence including witness testimony linking him to the crimes of homicide, extortion and forced displacement, reports Caracol Radio.
Authorities are thought to be in possession of a recording of a meeting Ortiz held with Diego Fernando Murillo “Don Berna,” the Medellin gang boss who was extradited to the U.S. for continuing with his paramilitary activities after supposedly demobilizing,
Witnesses reportedly testified that Ortiz had ordered the murders of drug addicts and youths linked to a satanic sect, as well as ordering the torturing of others at a local lake.
The Prosecutor General’s Office also reportedly arrested Luis Alberto de Jesus Echeverry Jimenez, alias “Beto” or “Arquero,” as well as an unidentified woman.
The prosecutor general will seek between twelve and 27 years in prison for Ortiz, as well as a fine.
The three detainees will appear before a judge to be charged within the next few hours.
Ortiz is known for healings he performs during masses, according to Caracol Radio.
The priest is the first religious figure to be linked to a right-wing paramilitary organization in Colombia.