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Is it the end of paramilitarism in Colombia?

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Both of the Buitrago sons are wanted in Colombia in connection with murders, forced disappearances, and drug trafficking. Martin Llanos has at least 11 arrest warrants pending, including charges of murder and kidnapping. He has already been condemned to 40 years in prison in absentia. He and the ACC are blamed for the deaths of at least 10,000 Colombians.

The Colombian chief of police, General Oscar Naranjo, said that the arrest of the brothers marked "the end of paramilitarism."

In one of the bloodiest wars between rival paramilitary groups, the ACC and the Centaurs Bloc of the AUC fought each other between 2002 and 2004 for domination of Colombia's Eastern Plains and the lucrative drug trade that moves across them. It is estimated that at least 2,000 fighters on both sides were killed, and hundreds more "disappeared" in that struggle.

I met all three Buitragos in 2003 and 2004, interviewing them in their mountain stronghold in the municipality of Monterrey in Casanare, in the center-east of Colombia. Unlike many leaders of the AUC, who preferred the high life in the cities or luxury haciendas in the countryside, the Buitragos spent much of their time in the mountains, living like the guerrillas they fought. They had strong support from ranchers and local businessmen throughout Casanare, and it was this support, as well as their mountain lifestyle, that allowed them to survive the onslaught by the far stronger Centaurs Bloc, which attacked them with the support of corrupt elements in the security forces.

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