In 2004, the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) began an investigation into the suspect relationship between the US Government and known paramilitary leaders in Colombia. This investigation included several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to various U.S. Government agencies including the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). After the CIA failed to comply with the FOIA, IPS sued and almost a decade later has finally received a decision in its favor.
The central point of this investigation is to uncover the hidden truth about the connection between the ruthless "death squad" known as "Los Pepes" and the DEA, CIA and U.S. Armed forces. Los Pepes was a paramilitary group whose sole purpose was to hunt and kill the Medellín drug lord, Pablo Escobar. Between 1992 and 1994, this death squad was responsible for terrorists threats, kidnappings, car bombings, property damage and execution-style killings of non-combatant civilians in their hunt for Escobar. Moreover, Los Pepes was the precursor to the notorious paramilitary group, the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), which was designated a terrorist group by the United States and later negotiated a "demobilization" agreement with the government of Colombia.
Almost thirty years since the death of Pablo Escobar and several years after the disbanding of the AUC, we are still in dark about what role the US government may have played in the evolution of a paramilitary force that contributed to the longest-running civil war in the Americas.
CONTACT: Paul Paz y Miño, IPS Associate Fellow, email@example.com