Jailing of Peacemaker Threatens Colombia’s Demobilization of Transborder Criminal Organizations and Urban Criminal Gangs

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Friday, June 1, 2018
Luz E. Nagle

What will happen to Colombia’s efforts to disarm and reintegrate transnational criminal organizations and street gangs if the local officials in whom they place their trust and hopes are suddenly jailed under specious charges by the national government?  This is the concern of many individuals closely following the case of Gustavo Villegas, the ex-Secretary of Security for the city of Medellín, who was arrested last February and sentenced to 31 months confinement on two charges that on close examination smack of political corruption and prosecutorial misconduct—and make no sense, whatsoever.  Villegas asserts that he has done nothing wrong other than to be successful as a peace negotiator between the Mayor’s office and Medellín’s violent transborder criminal gangs and former paramilitary combatants, and that national government politicians and prosecutors targeted him because they cannot allow Medellín’s mayoral officials to upstage the peace and reconciliation efforts between the Colombian government and illegal armed groups, including and most especially, the guerrilla army-turned-transborder-criminal organization known as the FARC.