At least 73 ERPAC neo-paramilitaries begin to turn themselves in during the first phase of the 10-day demobilization process, Colombian media reported.
In the first phase of the demobilization, 150 neo-paramilitaries are expected to lay down arms and at least 320 troops are due to disarm in total.
At the onset of the 10-day ERPAC demobilization, all members that surrendered were identified and interrogated while most of the lower ranks were charged with conspiracy and weapons trafficking.
Higher ranking members in the organization faced charges of drug trafficking, murder, abduction and the recruitment of minors.
As declared by the director of the Colombian Agency for Reintegration, Alejandro Eder, many ERPAC members received reduced penalties for turning themselves in, receiving up to 50% off their sentences. Most will have to serve between five and 10 years in jail, according to Caracol Radio.
“They [ERPAC members], just like any other defendant, have the right to all the benefits of Law 906 or Law 600 (legal rights laws), and in each case [it] will be considered who meets the requirements that provides any benefit or encouragement for confessing, for collaborating,” said Luis Gonzalez Leon, head of Colombia’s unit against criminal gangs.
According to the director of Colombia’s Technical Investigations team (CTI) of the Prosecutor General’s Office, Maritza Gonzalez, the ERPAC have thus far surrendered 47 guns, 53,000 rounds of ammunition and one 50 caliber machine gun.
Radio Caracol reported Thursday that the top leader of the ERPAC in the Eastern Plains, Jose Eberto Lopez Montero, alias “Caracho,” would turn himself in by Saturday; however, newspaper El Tiempo reported Wednesday that it was uncertain whether he would lay down his arms on Saturday or within the coming week.
Caracho’s faction makes up about one third of the 1,200 active ERPAC members. Approximately 320 ERPAC neo-paramilitaries are expected to demobilize in the coming nine days.