Colombian judge orders the release of Salvatore Mancuso, the dangerous drug trafficker whom Petro awarded as 'peace manager'

Judge Luz Marina Zamora determined that the former paramilitary leader will be able to leave prison during a four-year trial period.

This Monday, a Justice and Peace court judge granted Salvatore Mancuso four years of conditional release. Mancuso is a former head of the paramilitary group known as the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).

Judge Luz Marina Zamora determined that Mancuso could enjoy a trial period of freedom since he has complied with three of his sentences, spending eight years in prison.

The judge's decision depends on the former paramilitary leader not being required to serve additional sentences by other authorities. Therefore, he will remain in prison until the Justice and Peace courts of Barranquilla and Bogotá, with which he has pending accounts, decide his fate.

Judicial conditions

The judge established that several fundamental provisions condition Mancuso's freedom: he cannot leave the national territory and is prohibited from residing or visiting apartments where he has committed crimes for which he has already been convicted or faces pending proceedings.

In addition, Zamora determined that the former paramilitary leader must commit to not repeating the serious crimes for which he is being investigated and must appear in court every three months.

Mancuso was also prohibited from carrying weapons and required to contribute to clarifying the truth as part of his new role as "peace manager."

It should be remembered that this measure occurred shortly after President Gustavo Petro appointed the former paramilitary chief as "peace manager"  to mediate with the Clan del Golfo (an illegal group heir to the AUC).

Mancuso's criminal history

Mancuso faced investigations in Colombia for more than 75,000 crimes, being convicted by the Court of Justice and Peace for homicides, forced displacement, illicit recruitment, forced disappearance, torture, kidnapping, and acts of terrorism, among other crimes.

In April 2023, he was also charged with the alleged commission of 4,071 crimes that left more than 6,000 victims throughout the South American country. Likewise, the Superior Court of Bogotá accused him of 1,153 criminal incidents, including homicides and forced displacements.

In addition, the American justice system described him as one of the "most notorious" drug traffickers and sentenced him to more than 15 years in prison for drug trafficking in 2015.