A former commander of Colombian neo-paramilitary group Los Paisas and four other alleged members of illegal armed groups escaped July 5 after armed men ambushed the van the suspects were transported in. At the time of his arrest in 2011, “La Pantera” was said to be the second in command of the Paisas, which later joined forces with the Rastrojos to combat the expanding rival Urabeños gang. According to prison authorities, the van taking the suspects from the city of Montería to Medellín for a court hearing was ambushed while traveling through the municipality of Taraza, the heartland of the Paisas. Two of the five prison guards transporting the suspected criminals were injured in the attack.
La Pantera is believed to have been the mastermind behind a massacre of 11 people in in the village of Nechi Cuturu, Antioquia, in March 2011 and presumed to have had links with the FARC’s 18th Front in order to exchange weapons for drugs. The neo-paramilitary commander was initially arrested in June 2010 but released after a procedural error. (Colombia Reports, July 6)
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