Diego Murillo Bejarano
|Diego Murillo Bejarano|
February 23, 1961 |
Tuluá, Valle del Cauca, Colombia
|Other names||Don Berna, Adolfo Paz|
|Occupation||Leader of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia and The Office of Envigado|
|Criminal penalty||27 to 33 years imprisonment|
|Conviction(s)||Drug trafficking, money laundering|
Diego Fernando Murillo Bejarano, also known as Don Berna or Adolfo Paz, is a former leader of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia paramilitary group as well as the leader of The Office of Envigado cartel. He started working for the Medellín Cartel and ultimately led its militia wing. After internal vendettas he became one of Pablo Escobar's many enemies and became part of Los Pepes, an organization headed by the Castaño brothers, Carlos and Fidel. The organization controlled a powerful gang of hitmen named La Terraza (The Terrace). He then commanded two paramilitary blocs, the Cacique Nutibara Bloc and the Granada Heroes Bloc.
He became third in the chain of command of the AUC and a key player during the peace process in Santa Fe de Ralito, Córdoba between his organization and the government of Colombia, until he was accused by a court of being responsible for the death of a deputy. He then escaped from Santa Fe de Ralito and surrendered to authorities four days later.
Extradition to the United States
||This article may be unbalanced towards certain viewpoints. (December 2010)|
In the early morning of May 13, 2008, Murillo Bejarano and 13 other paramilitary leaders were taken from their jail cells in a surprise action by the Colombian government. According to Colombian Interior Minister Carlos Holguin, they refused to comply with the country's Peace and Justice law and were therefore extradited to the United States. Many critics argued that this action would actually be favorable to the criminal as he would only be charged for drug trafficking in the United States, as opposed to being charged for his many murders and other illegal activities in Colombia. The next day, Don Berna pleaded innocent to money laundering and drug trafficking charges filed by United States (federal) prosecutors of the Southern District of New York State. The judge ruled the trial would begin September 16, 2008.
On June 17, 2008, he pleaded guilty to trafficking tons of cocaine.  His lawyers and prosecutors agreed that he would be sentenced to 324 months to 405 months in prison. The sentence was determined on December 18, 2008. The acting director of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration said that "American and Colombian communities are safer with the removal of this notorious drug kingpin." On April 22, 2009, Don Berna was sentenced to 376 months in prison and fined $4 million USD.
The National Movement of State Crimes, a coalition of several organizations of victims who suffered from state or paramilitary violence, has asked for the "return the paramilitary chiefs to the Colombian authorities so they may be processed by the ordinary justice system and not under the framework of the Law of Justice and Peace, since this framework benefits the victimizers and not the victims, since they have not told all of the truth, have not made comprehensive reparations to the victims, and have not dismantled their criminal structures."
The Office in Colombia of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights stated: "according to Colombian law, the reasons claimed by the President of the Republic to proceed with the previously-suspended extraditions are also grounds for their removal from the application of the ‘Law of Justice and Peace’ and for the loss of the benefits established therein".
The Inter-American Commission stated that this "affects the Colombian State's obligation to guarantee victims’ rights to truth, justice, and reparations for the crimes committed by the paramilitary groups. The extradition impedes the investigation and prosecution of such grave crimes through the avenues established by the Justice and Peace Law in Colombia and through the Colombian justice system's regular criminal procedures. It also closes the door to the possibility that victims can participate directly in the search for truth about crimes committed during the conflict, and limits access to reparations for damages that were caused. This action also interferes with efforts to determine links between agents of the State and these paramilitary leaders."
- "Massive extradition of paramilitary bosses". Colombia Reports. May 13, 2008. Retrieved 2016-09-07.
- "'Don Berna' pleads not guilty before U.S. court". Colombia Reports. May 14, 2008. Retrieved 2016-09-07.
- "LEADER OF COLOMBIAN TERRORIST ORGANIZATION AUC PLEADS GUILTY TO NARCOTICS TRAFFICKING CHARGES" (PDF). United States Department of Justice. June 17, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-26.
- "US court sentences 'Don Berna' to 31 years in jail". Colombia Reports. April 22, 2009. Retrieved 2016-09-07.
- Extradition Cut Short ‘’CCAJAR’’ May 27, 2008