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Archive for Saturday, August 25, 2007

Paramilitary boss faces long prison sentence

August 25, 2007

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— A powerful paramilitary boss faces a long prison sentence - and possible extradition to the U.S. - because he broke a partial amnesty deal by continuing to run a drug smuggling ring from jail, authorities said Friday.

Carlos Jimenez is the first jailed warlord to lose benefits conceded under a 2003 peace accord that led paramilitary leaders to surrender and demobilize 31,000 of their men in exchange for reduced prison terms and protection from extradition.

Interior Minister Carlos Holguin said that Jimenez had continued to oversee a drug-smuggling operation from jail.

The peace accord was meant to disband the paramilitaries. Created by wealthy ranchers to combat Colombia's rebel armies, they evolved into drug-trafficking mafias that committed some of the worst atrocities in the country's half-century civil conflict.

Under the 2003 peace deal, paramilitary bosses who have to stay out of criminal activity to keep benefits such as maximum prison sentences of eight years and protection from extradition.

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