By Juan Camilo Jaramillo / InSight Crime

An investigation by El Espectador revealed the existence of a corruption network within the asset forfeiture unit of the Attorney General’s Office involving high-ranking judicial officials, as well as lawyers of well-known drug traffickers and US federal agents.

According to inspections conducted by the Attorney General’s Office, lawyer Luis Valero, along with prosecutor Mónica Valencia and agents from the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), offered a number of benefits to Colombian drug trafficker Javier García Rojas, alias “Maracuyá,” in exchange for 10 percent of his seized assets. These included a get-out-of-jail-free card from the Clinton List, which bars any US individuals or entities from doing business with him.

One of the assets taken from García Rojas was a large piece of land inside the Marmonal industrial zone in Cartagena reportedly valued at 419 billion Colombian pesos ($108 million) and that had pre-existing approval for a port to be built there.

Maracuyá’s main business partner, José Bayron Piedrahíta Ceballos, a drug trafficker who was arrested in Argentina in 2017, also confirmed the existence of benefit packages that several US officials and agents offered to suspects. 

Maracuyá’s case was just one of several corruption cases within the asset forfeiture unit of the Attorney General’s Office. The El Espectador investigation also revealed that the former director of the unit, Andrea Malagón, was linked to corruption within the Meritage real estate project in the city of Medellín.