Photo: Gen. Mauricio Santoyo
A retired Colombian police general was sentenced Friday in U.S. federal court to 13 years in prison for colluding with his country’s AUC federation of right-wing militias, which is on Washington’s list of international terrorist groups.
Gen. Mauricio Santoyo, who served as then-President Alvaro Uribe’s security chief from 2002-2006, pleaded guilty in August to charges he accepted bribes from the AUC in exchange for tipping off the paramilitaries about impending police operations.
Federal prosecutors had sought a 15-year prison term.
Santoyo, who retired from the National Police in 2009, came under investigation after three erstwhile AUC commanders extradited to the United States - Salvatore Mancuso, Juan Carlos Sierra and Carlos Mario Jimenez - testified that he had accepted bribes.
A U.S. federal grand jury indicted Santoyo in May. He later surrendered to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Bogota and was flown to Washington.
Founded in the mid-1980s to battle leftist rebels, the AUC degenerated into a loose alliance of death squads involved in drug trafficking, extortion and other criminal activities.
The militia federation ostensibly demobilized in 2006 as part of a peace process with the Uribe government.
A U.S. diplomatic cable disseminated by WikiLeaks said the AUC is responsible for more than 250,000 deaths in Colombia.