Colombian weekly Semana began publishing evidence Sunday of criminal activities by members of the country’s already severely disgraced intelligence agency DAS, whose almost entire intelligence database was leaked to media and drug trafficking organizations.
In the first of a series of articles, Semana revealed how DAS agents were involved in the training of paramilitary forces and murder attempts on now-Interior Minister German Vargas and emerald miner Victor Carranza.
The DAS is weeks from being dismantled following scandals revealing that the state agency was involved in the murder of unionists and politicians, had been infiltrated by the paramilitary organization AUC, illegally wiretapped Supreme Court judges and opponents of the administration of former President Alvaro Uribe and was involved in drug trafficking.
According to the weekly, the reports published Sunday are the first of a series in which previously unknown criminal activities of DAS agents of the intelligence agency are revealed.
DAS agents provide training to paramilitary forces
Semana’s first report revealed how the DAS had a whole archive of investigations against officials of the agency’s bomb squad who provided training to paramilitaries and, after the demobilization of the AUC, to “demobilized” paramilitaries about how to handle bombs, mortars, and other explosives.
According to the weekly, some of these military training sessions took place where and while delegates of the Uribe administration and paramilitary leaders were negotiating the demobilization of the AUC. One leaked testimony of a DAS official said that the director of the DAS and the Office of the Peace Commissioner supported the paramilitary payment of DAS officials for training “related to security.”
According to Semana, the investigation of the DAS’ counter-intelligence unit was filed and none of the implicated officials were ever officially investigated for their alleged collaboration with what was considered a terrorist group at that time. Some of the paramilitary trainers were even promoted.
DAS official investigated over attempted murder of Vargas
Semana’s second report revealed that a DAS official was investigated for providing the explosives used in the 2005 car bomb attack on German Vargas, Colombia’s Interior Minister who then was senator.
While then-DAS director Jorge Noguera — currently in jail for his paramilitary ties — and then-Interior Minister Sabas Pretelt — investigated for the bribery of congressmen to approve the 2006 re-election of Uribe — claimed the attack was carried out by guerrilla group FARC, the DAS was investigating one of its own people who was suspected of having provided the explosives to a family member to carry out the attack.
According to the investigation, the official was a member of Vargas’ security ring.
Weeks after the attack, the investigation was transferred to another DAS investigator who archived the investigation. Two students, accused of being FARC militants, were arrested for the attack in 2009, but released after prosecutors failed to press charges.
DAS ties to drug traffickers “Cuchillo” and “El Loco” Barrera
In its third report, Semana revealed that 11 DAS detectives were suspended in 2010 because of an internal investigation regarding their alleged ties to ERPAC, a neo-paramilitary organization formed by Pedro Oliveiro, alias “Cuchillo” who was killed by authorities later that year.
Five of the suspended DAS officials were investigated for their alleged involvement in a high-profile attack on “emerald czar” Victor Carranza.
According to the magazine, the investigation of the attack on Carranza, allegedly carried by Cuchillo, hardly made progress. Two suspects who had been arrested for the attack were assassinated.