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Fidel Castaño Gil was a right-wing Colombian drug lord and paramilitary who was among the founders of Los Pepes and the Peasant Self-Defense Forces of Cordoba and Uraba, a paramilitary group which ultimately became a member of the larger United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). He is also the brother of Vicente Castaño, the presumed chief of the narco-paramilitary group Águilas Negras', and Carlos Castaño Gil, founder and leader of the AUC paramilitary forces until his death.
In the early 1990s, the Cali Cartel waged a bloody war against the Medellín Cartel. At the same time, the Search Bloc was hunting down Medellín Cartel leader Pablo Escobar. A vigilante organization known as "People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar," or Los Pepes, began assassinating Escobar's associates and destroying his property. It also assisted the Search Bloc in their hunt for Escobar. Castaño was one of the founders of Los Pepes and worked with the Cali Cartel against Escobar. While Escobar genuinely persecuted many Colombians, Los Pepes were mostly cocaine traffickers and manufacturers looking to benefit from Escobar's fall.
Peasant Self-Defense Forces of Cordoba and Uraba
After Pablo Escobar was killed, Castaño turned his attention to the left-wing guerrillas in Colombia. Castaño's father had been killed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and Castaño formed the paramilitary organization known as the Peasant Self-Defense Forces of Cordoba and Uraba or ACCU. The group killed members of the FARC, the National Liberation Army, and the Popular Liberation Army. It also killed a great many innocent civilians. In April 1997 the Colombian paramilitary organizations coalesced to form the umbrella organization known as the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia
Castaño has not been seen since about 1994, and is widely presumed to be dead. His brother, Carlos, claimed that Fidel was killed by the FARC in 1994 and was secretly buried. While it is possible that Carlos was telling the truth, many believe that Fidel simply retired from the drug trafficking and paramilitarism. Adding to the mystery, Carlos himself later appeared to disappear under mysterious circumstances before his body was found and identified.