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News > Latin America

Ex-Colombian Paramilitary Leader Captured in Venezuela

  • Paramilitary groups, such as the AUC, were responsible for various human rights abuses in Colombia.

    Paramilitary groups, such as the AUC, were responsible for various human rights abuses in Colombia. | Photo: Reuters

Published 24 December 2015

William Danilo Carvajal, former AUC paramilitary member, is believed to be responsible for five massacres that resulted in 100 deaths.

Former paramilitary leader accused of leading at least five massacres, William Danilo Carvajal, was captured in Venezuela and returned home to Colombia this week after spending 16 years in hiding.

Danilo was captured Saturday in the town of Urena in the western Venezuelan state of San Cristobal, which borders Colombia, where authorities say the fugitive was in hiding. The arrest was a joint operation between Colombian authorities, Venezuela's National Anti Drug Office (ONA) and the Venezuelan Bolivarian National Army.

IN DEPTH: Paramilitaries in Venezuela

Danilo, also known as “Daniel,” was a former member of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a paramilitary group that was responsible for numerous human rights violations when it operated in Colombia.

The paramilitary fugitive has been on the run for some 16 years, according to officials, wanted for narcotrafficking, homicide, conspiracy and forced disappearances, reported local media.

Danilo is believed to be responsible for at least five massacres in Colombia, which left at least 100 people dead, many of whom were civilians. Among these include the 1999 massacre at El Tigre, Putumayo, where some 150 paramilitaries attacked the town, killing 28 people and setting fire to houses, vehicles and motorcycles.

IN DEPTH: The Colombian Peace Process Explained

Paramilitary groups, otherwise known as death squads, were technically demobilized in 2005 under an agreement with then President Alvaro Uribe. However, local observers and human rights organizations say successor groups continue to exist.

According to reports by Colombian magazine Semana, there are still 52 arrest warrants out for former AUC members.

WATCH: Colombia: Paramilitary Violence #1 Obstacle to Peace

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