The Future of Colombia’s Paramilitary Death Squads
By SAMUEL LOGAN and JOHN MEYERS
Born and raised in the slums of Medellín, Diego Fernando Murillo became known in the crime world as a ruthless killer. In 1992, he narrowly escaped Colombian authorities when his boss, Pablo Escobar, went into hiding. The resulting manhunt eventually killed Mr. Escobar but launched Diego Murillo’s career in the Colombian drug world. After switching alliances between various drug cartels, he has arrived at the top of the pyramid power structure of Colombia’s right wing paramilitary forces, known as the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC).
Mr. Murillo, now known by his alias “Adolfo Paz,” is among a group of AUC negotiators expecting to make an amnesty deal with the Colombian government as part of a peace process that began in December of 2002. Since the signing of the Santa Fe de Ralito Accord in July of 2003, the government has established a 115 square mile demilitarized zone in the department of Córdoba to negotiate with the AUC. Unfortunately for Mr. Paz, currently the AUC’s “inspector general,” he is one of ten AUC officials whose extradition has been ordered by the United States government. He and several of his colleagues are considered to be international “narco-terrorists” responsible for up to 40 percent of Colombia’s prolific trade in illicit drugs.
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