Colombian crime gang boss, hundreds of members surrender

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

The boss of a crime gang identified as the Popular Anticommunist (alternatively, Anti-terrorist) Revolutionary Army (PARA) has surrendered to authorities in Colombia. Jose Lopez Montero, also called "Caracho", handed himself in yesterday.

Skyline of Villavicencio in 2007
Image: Alejo Rendón.

More than 280 other members of the group also gave themselves up to police yesterday and on Thursday. Why the group members gave themselves up en masse is currently uncertain. Caracho recently told Colombian media he had "tired of war". All of the group members surrendered in Villavicencio, a city located south-east of the capital Bogotá.

Judges have yet to decide upon the legal status of the gang members. The ring members will remain in Villavicencio until they do. The Office of the Attorney General of Colombia has clarified that it did not negotiate with the group members at the time of their surrender. This is understood to be one of the largest mass suspect surrenders in the country for a number of years.

Caracho is accused of conspiracy, while PARA's members are also accused of a variety of crimes, including murder and illegal drug trade. Prosecutor Nestor Armando Novoa has stated that Caracho may also face further criminal charges due to his leadership in PARA. It is anticipated the members of the gang will say where their weapons are cached.

According to Associated Press, the political stance of the Popular Anticommunist Revolutionary Army is uncertain. Caracho had been the leader of PARA since the death of Pedro Guerrero, also called "Cuchillo" ("Knife"), who was killed in December of last year by falling in a river while trying to escape from police.