Former Colombia Police General sentenced to 13 years in US prison

Retired Colombia police general, Mauricio Santoyo, on Friday was sentenced to 13 years in a United States prison for aiding and abetting Colombian paramilitaries.

The former general was convicted of drug trafficking and accepting bribes from the defunct right-wing paramilitary group, the AUC. Santoyo was accused of helping the paramilitaries evade police for seven years from 2001 to 2008, including the three years he served as the chief of security for Colombia’s polarizing ex-president, Alvaro Uribe.

Before receiving his 13-year sentence, Santoyo expressed regret.

“I admit that I was wrong. I made mistakes and I am responding to them. I apologize to my family and I ask [for] consideration and kindness,” said the ex-general.

Santoyo admitted to taking bribes from the AUC [classified as a terrorist group by the United States] in return for tipping off the paramilitaries of impending military operations.

The ex-police general turned himself in to U.S. authorities in July and pleaded guilty to “knowingly abusing his position” and  “aiding a terrorist group” [the United States classifies the AUC as terrorists].

The 13-year sentence is two years short of what the prosecution was asking for. Santoyo received a reduced sentence because he will purportedly cooperate with authorities and name names that could lead to further arrests.

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