Colombian journalist Martha Soto, who brought together in “The Mafia Lawyer” the secrets of the negotiations and rapprochements between drug traffickers and paramilitaries with the United States Justice, considers in an interview with Efe that “drug trafficking is more alive than ever” .
This is one of Soto’s great concerns, who points out that “The book begins and ends the same way” with lawyer Joaquín Pérez traveling from Miami (USA) to Colombia to serve his controversial clients.
Soto, editor of the Investigative Unit of the newspaper El Tiempo, recounts in “The Lawyer of the Mafia”, published by Penguin Random House under the Aguilar label, the adventures of drug traffickers such as Víctor Patiño Fómeque and Leonidas Vargas or the paramilitary Carlos Castaño, chief of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), assassinated in 2004 by order of Vicente, his older brother.
It also breaks down details of the criminal life of two other capos and paramilitary chiefs who are or were imprisoned in the United States, such as Salvatore Mancuso, who led the AUC after Castaño’s murder, and Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, alias “Jorge 40.”
They, like another handful of obscure people, were seized by Pérez, a Cuban-American who wanted to be mayor of Miami but ended up as a recognized and skilled lawyer who achieved advantageous arrangements that even reached so that some of his clients did not pay a single jail day.
THE MANCUSO CONFESSIONS
Of the cases that Pérez carried out, one of the most striking is Mancuso, who demobilized on December 10, 2004.
He and 13 other high-ranking AUC commanders were extradited to the United States on May 13, 2008 on planes belonging to the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), during the government of Colombian President Álvaro Uribe (2002- 2010) for continuing to commit crimes from prison.
In the United States, Mancuso collaborated with the Justice of that country and handed over “82 names of narco-paramilitaries. In addition, those of 7 politicians, 46 congressmen, 65 members of the public force and 7 national and foreign companies linked to the Self-Defense Forces,” says Soto. in his book.
The author explains that “few know that in the declarations to gringo prosecutors there are eleven more generals, from the Army and the Police; nine colonels and a dozen uniformed officers of other ranks, some of whom have not yet been investigated by the Colombian Justice. “.
Official documents show that the former head of the AUC certified the delivery of properties valued at more than 50 million dollars, a figure that clearly shows the fortunes that the paramilitaries moved in Colombia.
Mancuso was sentenced in 2015 by the Court of the District of Columbia (USA) to 15 years and 10 months in prison for drug trafficking, a sentence that he finished purging in March 2020 thanks to the benefits he received.
However, the health of Mancuso, who is waiting for his return to Colombia to be defined as the country requested him to be tried for other crimes, is diminished.
He suffers from constant headaches, can only read out of his right eye, has lost several teeth, looks stooped and underweight, very different from when he was driving around in armored vans and with an army of escorts, adds the author.
Because of this and other cases, Soto considers that one of the purposes of the book is to contribute “a truth that is not often known in judicial files in Colombia, a truth that often remains in the United States.”
And it is that Colombia continues to be mired in a spiral of violence despite the fact that in 2016 the peace agreement was signed with the then FARC guerrilla, and before that the AUC, organizations that leveraged their military growth in the economic power derived from drug trafficking, demobilized. .
From Soto’s investigations, all linked to the world of drug trafficking and paramilitarism, books such as “The Black Widow”, “The Horses of Cocaine” and “Narcojet, Cocaine for the World in Luxury Planes” have emerged.