WASHINGTON (CN) – The Defense Intelligence Agency admits it has more than 4,000 documents about Colombian death squad leader Carlos Castaño, but has refused to release them for seven years, journalist Jeremy Bigwood says in a federal FOIA complaint.
Castaño was the founder and leader of the right-wing death squad organization known as the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC. He operated with impunity for years against leftist guerrillas, labor organizers, workers and peasants in Colombia. He admitted to journalists his responsibility for murders, which he claimed were necessary in the war against communists.
Castaño and his group are believed to be responsible for hundreds or thousands of murders, in a fight for, among other things, control of coca-growing regions and the illicit money from them. His dismembered and burned body was identified by DNA testing in 2006, the Colombian government reported.
For years, neither the Colombian government nor its ally, the United States, were believed to have much real interest in controlling Castaño, as he terrorized the poor farmers from whom the FARC drew its support.
The United States finally charged him, in 2002, with importing 17 tons of cocaine.
Bigwood says he has received only 62 heavily censored records of the more than 4,000 documents the DIA acknowledges it has. He wants to see the records.
He is represented by Paul Wolf.