Panamanian authorities extradited a former paramilitary commander to Colombia on Wednesday after bilateral cooperation resulted in his capture Monday morning after a 10-year manhunt.
Former paramilitary boss from the Catatumbo Bloc of the now-defunct AUC, Armando Alberto Perez alias “Camilo,” was captured in central Panama after Colombian authorities used intelligence to pinpoint the “exact location” of Perez’s hideout, according to Colombia’s National Police.
Perez was known in the border region of Catatumbo in the state of Norte de Santander as “The Monster of Catatumbo.” He commanded around 1,500 paramilitaries that were directly responsible for the death of 5,200 people in the state of Norte de Santander.
“Camilo” has 81 warrants for his arrest for crimes ranging from homicide, forced disappearances, and his participation in two massacres. Besides those 81 warrants, he has also been sentenced four times adding up to 120 years in prison.
Among those sentences, is 40 years in prison for leading the massacre of Tibu in April of 2000 where 20 people were murdered. Perez is also wanted for his role in the massarce of Gabarra where 35 civilians were killed.
Colombian Police also inform that Perez ordered his men to keep 39 women as sex slaves and force them to do domestic work. These crimes were revealed under the Justice and Peace Law, of which Perez had enrolled in back in 2004, but then he fled to control the drug trafficking routes of the Sierra Nevada and Santa Marta.
According to Verdad Abierta, Perez was a Colombian military officer in charge of army bases in Antioquia and Cordoba where he was an informant of the AUC supreme commanders, the Castaño brothers, until 1996 when he was sentenced to 26 years for murdering a civilian he thought to be a guerrilla. However, Perez only spent 18 months in jail and was freed with the help of the Castaño brothers, the same men that helped pay for his military academy training.
Perez was then recruited by the Castaño brothers to run a paramilitary training camp, of which some of the most notorious AUC commanders attended.