Colombia’s prosecution links former Medellin mayor to mafia real estate

Colombia’s prosecution links former Medellin mayor to mafia real estate

Roger Pettingell Sarasota Real Estate

Colombia’s chief prosecutor said Tuesday that Medellin’s former mayor owned four real estate properties that allegedly belonged to the local mafia.

In a press statement, Prosecutor General Francisco Barbosa said that prosecution officials seized four real estate properties that were registered under the name of former Mayor and former Antioquia Governor Luis Perez.

The properties allegedly belonged to Vicente Castaño, a late commander of the AUC with close ties to the Medellin mafia.

The real estate would have an estimated value of $17 million (COP74 billion), said Barbosa.

The prosecution allegedly found the homes as part of a criminal investigation into the AUC that followed the partial demobilization of the paramilitaries between 2003 and 2006.

Barbosa made no mention of alleged ties between Castaño and Perez.

According to a former AUC commander Rodrigo Alberto Zapata, a.k.a. “Ricardo,” Castaño received Perez’s properties from three regional drug traffickers to pay off an outstanding debt.

The former mayor said that the chief prosecutor was “completely disinformed” and that he had bought one of the properties of  the granddaughter of late dictator Mariano Ospina in 2006.

According to Perez, Castaño’s name never appeared on any of the documents related to the real estate.

Ricardo’s paramilitary group, “the Southwestern Front,” had ties to former Senator Mario Uribe, a cousin of former President Alvaro Uribe and a neighbor of former drug lord “El Tuso.”

The former AUC commander accused Uribe’s former presidential adviser Jose Obdulio Gaviria, the cousin of late drug lord Pablo Escobar, of supporting the Southwestern Front in 2016.

One of Uribe’s closest allies, former Antioquia Governor Luis Alfredo Ramos, is in prison because of his ties to El Tuso and “La Oficina de Envigado,” the Medellin crime syndicate founded by Escobar in the 1980’s.

Colombia’s presidential palace became home to criminal organization under Uribe: court

Extradited crime lord “Don Berna” and the Castaño’s brothers founded the AUC and took over La Oficina after they split from the Medellin Cartel in 1991 and helped kill Escobar in 1993.

Perez was was mayor of Medellin between 2001 and 2004 when Berna controlled Colombia’s largest city and the AUC’s drug trafficking activities.

The former tried to run for mayor again in 2011, but lost those elections to Governor Anibal Gaviria after then-Mayor Alonso Salazar, accused Perez of using La Oficina to buy votes.

Medellin: Colombia’s extrajudicial execution capital

The regional politician successfully campaigned to become governor of Antioquia between 2016 and 2019 and briefly, but unsuccessfully tried to run for president earlier this year.

Perez is locally known as “Luis XV” for alleged charging a 15% kickback in return to the granting of government contracts.

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