Colombian police arrest paramilitary leader 'Movil 5'

Manuel Salvador Ospina Cifuentes is escorted by police Manuel Salvador Ospina Cifuentes was arrested in the city of Medellin after lengthy surveillance

Related Stories

Police in Colombia have arrested a senior paramilitary known as Movil 5.

The man, whose real name is Manuel Salvador Ospina Cifuentes, was on the run after being found guilty of the massacre in 1990 of dozens of villagers in Pueblo Bello village.

He is also suspected of killing Carlos Castano, the leader of Colombia's largest paramilitary group, the AUC.

The AUC demobilised in 2005 but many of their members went on to join new criminal groups.

The paramilitaries were formed in the 1980s by cattle ranchers to counter Marxist rebel groups that have been battling the government for five decades.

Family business

Ospina Cifuentes was arrested in the city of Medellin after a lengthy surveillance operation.

He started his criminal career as a security guard for Carlos Castano's brother, Fidel.

In 1990, Ospina Cifuentes was part of a gang of men who entered the village of Pueblo Bello in northern Antioquia province and killed 43 people.

The gang said the massacre was in revenge for the alleged theft by the villagers of 43 cows belonging to Fidel Castano.

After the disappearance of Fidel Castano in 1994, Ospina Cifuentes transferred his allegiance to another Castano brother, Vicente.

Vicente Castano in a file picture from 13 July, 2006 Vicente Castano is on the run from the police and believed to be heading a new criminal gang

Prosecutors say that in 2004, acting on Vicente's orders, Ospina Cifuentes was one of 30 men who cornered and shot dead Carlos Castano at his hideout in the north of the country.

Deadly feud

Analysts believe the two brothers had fallen out over their group's involvement in drug trafficking.

Carlos Castano was thought to be more interested in the paramilitaries' role in fighting Colombia's left-wing rebels, while Vicente is said to have been lured by the profits of the cocaine trade.

Carlos Castano in a TV interview in 2000 Paramilitary leader Carlos Castano disappeared in 2004, and his body was found two years later

With Carlos Castano moreover involved in negotiations with the Colombian government over the AUC's eventual demobilisation, his brother and other senior paramilitaries feared he might reveal the location of lucrative drug routes in exchange for a more lenient sentence.

His body was found in a shallow grave in 2006.

On the run

Vicente Castano has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for ordering his brother's murder, but his whereabouts are unknown. Some in the security forces believe he has gone on to lead a criminal gang called the Black Eagles.

Ospina Cifuentes is expected to be charged with carrying out Carlos Castano's murder. He was already sentenced in absentia to 30 years in jail for his role in the Pueblo Bello massacre.

The Colombian government is currently in peace negotiations with the country's largest left-wing rebel group, the Farc.

Government negotiators say they have learned from "mistakes" in the AUC's demobilisation and will invest in the reintegration of the rebels to ensure they do not go on to join criminal gangs if a peace deal is signed.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Latin America & Caribbean stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Stained glass of man with swordFrance 1 England 0

    The most important battle you have probably never heard of


  • Golden retriever10 things

    Dogs get jealous, and nine more nuggets from the week's news


  • Pro-Israel demonstrators shout slogans while protesting in Berlin - 25 July 2014Holocaust guilt

    Gaza conflict leaves Germans confused over who to support


  • The emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-SabahFreedoms fear

    Growing concern for rights as Kuwait revokes citizenships


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • CastleRoyal real estate

    No longer reserved for kings and queens, some find living in a castle simply divine

Programmes

  • Leader of Hamas Khaled MeshaalHARDtalk Watch

    BBC exclusive: Hamas leader on the eagerness to end bloodshed in Gaza

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.