Colombia: they prosecute a network that sold army weapons

BOGOTÁ (HPD) — A group of eight active military, former military and civilians were prosecuted for allegedly being part of a network that obtained weapons and ammunition from military strongholds to illegally sell them to illegal armed groups, the Colombian prosecutor’s office reported Monday.

In Colombia the carrying of weapons is under the control of the government, which only grants some permits to citizens. However, the prosecution found that military and ex-military personnel apparently took advantage of their positions to obtain machine guns, rifles, pistols and cartridges for individuals who were in charge of selling them to illegal groups.

According to the investigation, the army’s weapons came into the hands of the Clan del Golfo cartel, the guerrilla National Liberation Army (ELN) and the dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that did not accept the peace agreement signed between the State and that guerrilla in 2016.

The prosecution found that the money from the negotiations was sent by money orders. One of the soldiers received around 586 dollars in a few days, which according to the prosecutor did not correspond to the legal payment made by the army for his salary. In total, the accusing entity claims to have evidence of payments for more than 10,200 dollars between 2017 and 2022.

With the advance of the capture operations in various parts of the country, one of the soldiers deserted the army, after 18 years of service, to allegedly evade justice. The prosecutor indicated in a hearing that the soldier acquired a false identity card and fled from Bogotá to hide in order not to be captured.

The illicit network obtained the weapons from military forts in various parts of the country such as Bogotá, Caquetá, Meta, Putumayo and the Atlantic Coast. The weapons and cartridges would have been stored in Medellín in a commercial establishment.

Among those captured there is an ex-soldier and a civilian who would have reoffended, despite being convicted of the crime of arms trafficking. Since their house arrest, they apparently maintained contact with battalion officials to “continue acquiring weapons on a large scale,” the prosecution detailed.

Only one of the defendants accepted the charges for the crimes of trafficking and carrying weapons, ammunition for restricted use for the exclusive use of the Armed Forces, conspiracy to commit a crime and illicit enrichment.

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