Cablegate: Drug Ties Related to Guaitarilla Police Deaths

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

id: 20281
date: 9/1/2004 23:23
refid: 04BOGOTA8899
origin: Embassy Bogota
classification: SECRET//NOFORN
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

----------------- header ends ----------------

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 008899




E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/31/2014

Classified By: Charge d'Affairs Milton K. Drucker, Reasons 1.4 (b) and


1. (C) On August 30, the Inspector General's Office
(Procuraduria) announced that it had closed the disciplinary
investigation into the March 19 Army-Police clash in
Guaitarilla, Narino Department. According to the televised
announcement, the Procuraduria will press charges for alleged
negligence and official misconduct against the Director of
Operations in the Police "GAULA" Unit (a special
anti-kidnapping and anti-extortion unit) and four other
officials. In an unrelated incident on August 31, Police and
Army units shot at each other again, this time in the
outskirts of Bucaramanga, Santander Department, killing two
police officers. It is not yet clear what caused the latest
incident. End Summary.

Guaitarilla Background

2. (C) During an official disciplinary investigation of
the March 19 Army-Police clash near Guaitarilla, Narino
Department, the Procuraduria uncovered evidence and received
testimonies showing that the seven police and four civilians
killed were involved in a cocaine deal gone awry. They have
not yet made a decision about Army participation. Initially,
Police Commander Libio German Castillo, who was in charge of
the unit, said the police and civilian victims had been
involved in an operation against a gang of criminals when
they were killed. One source speculated that the Army was
called in to attack Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
(FARC) elements in the area and ended up in a friendly-fire
incident with the police instead.

IG Files Charges Against Police Officials

3. (SBU) The Procuraduria is filing misconduct charges
against police officials involved in the incident and is
still investigating the army's involvement. Their charges
against the police are for dereliction of duty and abuse of
authority. The following officials have been formally
charged: Ltc. Humberto Guaitbonza Carreno, Deputy Director of
the National GUALA Unit, Ltc. Jorge Enrique Baron Blanco,
Operating Commander of the Narino Police, Captain John Jamie
Yepes Mejia, Commander of the Narino GAULA, Captain Libio
German Castillo Villarreal, Commander of the Narino SIJIN
(local police investigative unit), Superintendent Javier
Alberto Alfaro Otero, Carlos Americo Chavez Loaiza, and
Eduardo Rodrigo Huertas, Julio Cesar Hernandez Moreno, Arley
Antonio Garcia Sicaronni, and Wilson Salet Bernal Villada of
the National Police's Pasto detachment. The Prosecutor
General's Office ("Fiscalia") will continue its separate
criminal investigation.

4. (C) On August 25, Deputy Inspector General Carlos Arturo
Gomez met with Emboffs to discuss Guaitarilla, Cajamarca, and
other high-profile disciplinary investigations. Gomez noted
that the Guaitarilla case probably involved mass corruption
and individuals hiding or tampering with evidence. He added
that autopsies of those involved that night indicated they
had been abused, contradicting official accounts. He
stressed that, despite overwhelming evidence of drug
involvement and official misconduct, those involved would
receive little more than a slap on the wrist. For example,
the Procuraduria could only issue disciplinary suspensions,
and the Fiscalia had mentioned to Gomez that criminal
convictions could be difficult given the problems with the
evidence. Gomez told Emboffs that although a Fiscalia
official had been present during all evidence collection,
most evidence was still tainted before analysis, suggesting
that Fiscalia employees were complicit in the cover-up.

Second Police-Army Gunfight

5. (S) On August 31, a second Police-Army incident occurred
when an Army GAULA unit opened fire on SIJIN officers in the
rural outskirts of Bucaramanga, Santander Department, killing
two police officers. While the SIJIN agents were allegedly
wearing vests with bright yellow "SIJIN" letters on the front
and back, the initial GAULA report to Army headquarters
claimed the SIJIN agents fired first.


6. (C) Those involved in the Guaitarilla incident, whether
Army or Police, have refused to take polygraphs or discuss
the incident publicly despite the MOD's public announcement
that he wanted them to submit to polygraph exams. Ongoing
revelations about the case have the potential to undermine
the Minster of Defense's credibility and damage the
military's public image. The latest incident near
Bucaramanga will only aggravate already tense relations
between the Army and Police. End comment.

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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