Columbia has extradited 14 former paramilitary leaders to the United States to face charges including drug trafficking. Wearing body armour and handcuffs, the men were escorted on board a plane under heavy guard. Among them were some of the country’s most feared warlords. Officials say the men violated the terms of a 2003 peace deal protecting them from extradition. But the move took Columbia by surprise. The lawyer for one of the men told reporters he only found out what had happened when he heard it on the local news. He described the decision as an attack on the peace process.
Bankrolled by Columbia’s landowners to counter the threat from left-wing guerilla groups, the paramilitaries controlled large swathes of Columbia. It is alleged they killed many thousands of people, drove peasants from their land and smuggled cocaine, all in the name of counter-insurgency.