(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

He’s the ‘father’ of the AUC and of the CLAN DEL GOLFO. He’s got evidence against politicians and even against the Nules.

Published December 17, 2017 by the Investigative Unit, El Tiempo (Colombia)

A 52-page document put together by intelligence agents from the DEA in Bogotá records the criminal history of Daniel Rendón Herrera, alias “Don Mario”, the 1,291st person to be extradited by the Santos government.

Just before being sent to the United States to answer for three different criminal charges, this man played his last card, saying that he didn’t know why they would send him to New York, when he could reveal the crimes committed by the ‘paras’ and their connections with important politicians.

Nevertheless, the United States has been insisting on getting him since 2009, when they found out the extent of his criminal history, a history that includes three requests for extradition.

For the DEA, “Don Mario”, 51 years old, is part of the criminal saga of his family, headed by Jairo de Jesús Rendón Herrera, alias Germán Monsalve, and capped by Oscar and Freddy Rendón, alias “El Alemán”.

Jairo was the first one to show up in reports as a cocaine trafficker in the Gulf of Urabá, the region that his clan has controlled for decades. For the DEA, Jairo was the real power behind the throne of the Rendóns, the childhood friends of the brothers Vicente, Fidel, and Carlos Castaño. The Castaños were the founders of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). While Jairo was trafficking, “Don Mario” and “El Alemán” became paramilitary commanders. The earnings from the cocaine were used to nourish that criminal enterprise, purchasing weapons and taking over land in Urabá.

Witnesses affirm that associates of the Rendóns are behind the recent crimes against notable figures in the area, like José Antonio Ocampo, alias “Pelusa”, machine-gunned on April 25, 2017.

That individual, the former boss of the Medellín cartel, owned the Virgen del Cobre, a ranch in Necoclí, Antioquia Province, one of the cocaine pipelines used by the Rendóns.

After Jairo began being hunted by the authorities (he was already bargaining with the United States), “Don Mariotook over the leadership and his friend Vicente Castaño sent him to set up the AUC in the Eastern Plains, along with another boss, Miguel Arroyave. That’s how the Centauros Bloc got started. Its cadre included Dairo Usuga, alias “Otoniel”, a hardened and bloody ex-member of the EPL, an unquestioning lieutenant of “Don Mario”. They carried out the massacre at Mapiripán (1997) as part of the advance of the “paras”.

In fact, when that boss was captured, in 2009, after demobilizing and fleeing, he left “Otoniel” in charge of the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces, who later mutated into the “Clan del Golfo”, the most powerful criminal gang in the country.

Pedro Juan and the Nule Group

In order to avoid extradition, “Don Mario” started offering information about politicians, like Nebio Echeverry, the governor of Guaviare department, talking about him in a Friday interview with La W Radio.

In a prior communication to El Tiempo, he said he had information about a candidate for President. Furthermore, he has talked about a supposed payment by the Nule Group to build a road, a payment made through Henry López, alias “Mi Sangre”. He also says he has evidence against Santiago Uribe, against Santiago Gallón, against his brother Jairo, and against his own son.

He even said he had facts about a summit meeting of cattlemen where there were politicians present and he says that Carlos Castaño was at the meeting. He also offers to furnish information about the death of the businessman Pedro Juan Moreno Villa, who, according to him, was a link to the AUC. 

The Attorney General’s Office, however, concluded its collaboration after establishing that he remained in contact with “Otoniel” and his criminal gang, something that he denies.

Now he will have to evaluate which government he will surrender to, so as to try to lower the sentence he can expect: 30 years for drug trafficking and for being the “father” of the bloody Self-Defense Forces. A DEA plane is waiting for him at the CATAM airport and we can expect that the boss will celebrate New Year’s in the United States.

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