Drug gangs in the troubled north-Colombian department of Cordoba are willing to surrender to authorities, the local bishop said Tuesday.
According to Monteria bishop Monsignor Julio Cesar Vidal, he received a letter from ringleaders of “Los Urabeños,” “Los Paisas,” and “Los Rastrojos” in which “they express that they want to contribute to the peace and reconciliation of the country.”
The bishop told television network Caracol that the drug gangs are asking the government to give them the opportunity to surrender safely.
“They expressed their willingness to surrender themselves, their weapons, their routes and their crops,” Vidal said.
The leaders of the gangs are also willing to go to jail “for having committed crimes in the drug trafficking business,” the bishop added.
The clergyman said he will give the letter he received to President Juan Manuel Santos.
It is the second time within a month the bishop has claimed that the drug gangs are willing to demobilize. According to Vidal, the groups held a ceasefire over Christmas, but returned to violence after the Christian holiday.
The Cordoba department is considered crucial for the trafficking of cocaine to Colombia’s Caribbean coast and has seen a surge in violence after the demobilization of paramilitary organization AUC. Former mid-level commanders of the paramilitary group formed new gangs and started battling with rival groups for control of the drug routes. The violence has left over 50 dead in the department so far this year.