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Former Colombian Paramilitary Leader Arrested

In this photo released by the Colombian Migration Press Office, ex-paramilitary commander Hernan Giraldo Serna, center, is escorted upon arrival at the El Dorado airport after being deported from the U.S. to Bogota, Colombia, Jan. 25, 2021.

A former paramilitary leader in Colombia is in custody in the South American country Tuesday, a day after being deported from United States, where he served a 16-year sentence for drug trafficking.

A spokesman for Colombia’s Ministry of Justice said 74 year-old Hernán Giraldo faces charges related to massacres, murder, kidnapping, rapes and drug trafficking.

Giraldo, who was known as “the boss” for his heavy-handed leadership, is wanted under dozens of warrants for crimes committed under his command by the Tayrona Bloc of the Self-Defense Units of Colombia, a far-right militia that operated in northern Colombia.

Giraldo was sentenced to 40 years in Colombia after confessing to hundreds of crimes affecting more than 10,000 victims while in custody in the United States.

Giraldo’s sentence was reduced because he helped the government under a program to prosecute paramilitary groups.

Giraldo’s lawyers are seeking leniency from Colombia for his time served in the United States and his earlier cooperation with the government.