EL ESPECTADOR, February 15, 2022

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The long-time officer in the Armed Forces, convicted of the so-called false positives, and a witness before the JEP in relation to those crimes, is now connected to a network of drug traffickers. He appears to have been part of a drug trafficking organization in Nariño. He has been at liberty since 2018, after he submitted to the jurisdiction of the JEP.

The name of Colonel Robinson González del Río re-appeared at the beginning of 2022. The last time his name was publicized, in 2017, he was convicted on two occasions for taking part in 46 cases of false positives while he commanded the AntiGuerrilla Battalion No. 67 Martyrs of Puerres in Cauca. A year later, his name appeared again when it was learned that he had been released from custody after filing a signed Certificate of Commitment with the Executive Secretary’s Office in the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP). After that, his name had not re-appeared with the intensity it has had at the beginning of this year.

Last February 2, the former soldier was captured by the Attorney General’s CTI (Special Investigation Unit), because it appeared that he was part of a criminal organization working in the service of the drug trafficking gang Los Contadores (The Accountants). This criminal gang has been dedicated for the last five years to terrorizing the residents of the Tumaco Municipality (Nariño Department), where several illegal organizations are disputing the drug trafficking routes, mainly to the United States.

During González del Río’s recent hearings, more details were learned about a network of drug trafficking, and about how a Colombian Army General, who is known by his alias, “El Padrino” (“The Godfather”), is part of it, and that the General’s surname is Chawez. Now the authorities are working to determine which high-ranking Army officer is the one involved. “I have already talked with Barrero and he told me that what we were doing was, that he is helping us to turn it over to General Chawez directly and so we will have control of all of these special operations,” was heard in one of the conversations between González del Río and alias Matamba, the former leader of the criminal organization. He was captured in May of 2021.

However, that is only one of the files that González del Río will have to explain to Colombia’s legal system. One of the others contains his participation in creating criminal gangs of soldiers in the units that he had been in charge of, paying them irregular rewards, inventing tactical operations for criminal purposes and creating faked scenarios. All of it was a criminal scaffolding used to murder civilians and present them as guerrillas killed in combat.

For example, in July of 2016, he was convicted of 32 extrajudicial executions. “He dedicated himself to carrying out tactical operations in different regions of the country, in which he caused the killing of 32 civilians, dressing them up as supposed combat ‘kills’. To make it more credible, he planted firearms for private use and personal defense beside their corpses, and more than that, he paid ‘wrongful’ rewards to the supposed informers,” wrote a Specialized Judge in Antioquia.

Before that decision, another judge, but in Caldas, also found him guilty of the murder of two people in the town (vereda) of Trocaderos in the rural part of Neira (Caldas). The murder victims, Javier Moreno Marín and Janio César Supúlveda, were found with a pistol and a shotgun because, supposedly, they were FARC guerrillas. However, investigation revealed that men under González del Río’s command had murdered them. After he ended up in prison for those actions, the Colonel retired from the Army, but he continued to act illegally.

Bribery and weapons trafficking

Gonzáles then found himself in prison, but what sealed his exit from the Army was some audios in which it became clear that the then-Colonel was using his place of confinement as a center where he could carry on an illegal business. In one of the audios, it was made clear that the now-retired soldier was conversing with other Army officials, with whom he was trying to set up a kind of mafia to file complaints about the prosecutors that had investigated the false positive cases.

Robinson González del Río was also implicated in some alleged bribes to judges at the Superior Council of the Judiciary. In 2013 some more audios came to light, where you heard the now-retired Colonel talking with the then-Justice of the Disciplinary Branch of that tribunal, Henry Villarraga, about the possibility of transferring his case from the ordinary justice system to the Military Justice System. One of those audios that was discovered at that time established that he was talking about paying a 400 million peso (roughly USD $101,500)[1]bribe to the Justice to push the transfer of the files.

Regarding the case of weapons trafficking, the prosecutors explained that he had been removing weapons from Colombian Army battalions and, through lower officials, transporting them to locations he had identified, so they could be used by the illegal groups. The soldiers made use of their military authority to bypass the Police checkpoints on the roads. The prosecutors found that Villavicencio was a key point in getting the weapons through—primarily rifles—and that the delivery happened mostly in towns in Bajo Cauca in Antioquia, and also in towns like Tarazá and Caucasia.

This new case that González del Río is embroiled in, his alleged connection to a drug trafficking network, appears to open a new case of corruption inside the Armed Forces. The detectives in the Attorney General’s Office are now trying to find out how high the mafiosa network will reach that was operating in the southwestern part of the country, and was trying take ownership of the process of getting the loads of cocaine out of the country from this department, which, in recent years, has been suffering from the violence of the armed groups.

[1] Exchange rates have been uneven.

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