The ex-security chief under former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe can add bribery to his long list of accusations, including ties to paramilitaries, crime lords in Bogota, and drug trafficking links that date back to Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel, local media reports.
General Flavio Buitrago was the former head of security under Uribe and now is serving a sentence in prison for money laundering. In recent revelations, Buitrago is being accused of being on the payroll of the now-defunct paramilitary group, AUC, during the last of the talks between the paramilitaries and the government before the AUC were demobilized in 2006, according to Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper.
Who’s accusing who?
Testimonies from the demobilized Central Bolivar Bloc (BCB) of the AUC only provided the last names and ranks of the officials accused, so identities are still being verified.
Along with six other police officers, Buitrago was accused of being on the payroll of the paramilitary group from 2004 until their demobilization, according to Carlos Mario Jimenez, alias “Macaco,” head of the BCB.
According to Macaco, Buitrago was paid over $8,000 a month. Macaco said officers gave “information, conducted surveillance, interceptions, and retained people.”
The Prosecutor General’s Office said they would follow the trail and believed the accused used proxies to circumvent controls.
A look into Buitrago’s past ties
In April, Buitrago was originally suspected of having ties to the BCB after the DEA in the US informed authorities that Buitrago’s name was often mentioned by extradited paramilitaries jailed in Miami, Florida.
Buitrago was also accused of having links with convicted crime lord, Marco Antonio Gil, alias “El Papero,” as well as another drug trafficker Jaime Dib Mor.
US and Colombian authorities claim to have incriminating phone calls that link General Buitrago to El Papero.
Buitrago was accused of helping them launder money; however, Buitrago denied all allegations.
Buitrago was called-in for questioning after El Papero’s arrest, whose associates made 125 calls to “influential people” in an attempt to set him free. Many calls were linked to unidentified police officials, according to Latin American analysis site, Insight Crime.
Buitrago also stood trial in September, 2013 for being unable to justify approximately $350,000 of income with alleged economic ties to the now-defunct Medellin Cartel, once led by Pablo Escobar.
The apple didn’t fall far from the tree as Buitrago’s predecessor, former General Mauricio Santoyo, was imprisoned in the United States after being convicted of leaking information to paramilitaries.
Santoyo admitted to supporting the drug-trafficking AUC paramilitary organization while working as Uribe’s top security aide.
- Former Uribe Security Chief Accused of Narco-Ties (Insight Crime)
- Sobornos de ‘paras’, otro lío para el general Flavio Buitrago (El Tiempo)