Militias Penetrated Colombia Spy Agency by 1990

BOGOTA – The leaders of the right-wing AUC (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia) militia federation infiltrated the highest levels of Colombia’s DAS intelligence agency (Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad) by the beginning of the 1990s, El Tiempo newspaper reported Monday, citing sources in the Inspector General’s Office.

AUC founder Carlos Castaño Gil and his brother Fidel Castaño Gil, both now dead, managed to obtain the cooperation of highly placed officials in DAS, the newspaper said.

The Castaños’ penetration of DAS played a role in the April 1990 assassination of presidential candidate Carlos Pizarro Leongómez and in at least a half-dozen other politically motivated killings, the unnamed sources told El Tiempo.

“One cannot speak of an institutional responsibility, rather of an infiltration that reached the highest levels. In that era appear officials assigned to key posts who ended up recruited by the Castaños,” one source said.

The IG office asked last week that charges be brought against two former DAS officials in the murder of Pizarro, who was slain aboard a commercial airline flight minutes after take-off from Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport.

Investigators for the IG office also suspect that elements in DAS obstructed probes of the 1989 slaying of presidential frontrunner Luis Carlos Galán Sarmiento and the March 1990 killing of leftist hopeful Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa.

The Castaño brothers founded the AUC in the mid-1980s to battle leftist rebels, but many of the militias turned into largely criminal enterprises engaged in drug trafficking, protection rackets and expropriation of land and cattle.

Carlos Castaño was slain, allegedly at his brother’s instigation, in April 2004, while Fidel was himself killed several years later.

The AUC formally demobilized in 2006 as part of a peace process with the government. EFE

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