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Los Pepes

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Title: Los Pepes  
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Subject: Medellín Cartel, Pablo Escobar, Cali Cartel, Fidel Castaño, Colombian paramilitary groups
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Los Pepes

Los Pepes, a name derived from the Spanish phrase "Perseguidos por Pablo Escobar" ("People persecuted by Pablo Escobar"), was a short-lived vigilante group composed of enemies of drug lord Pablo Escobar. They waged a small-scale war against Escobar's Medellín Cartel in the early 1990s, which ended in 1993 with Escobar's death and fracturing of the Medellín Cartel. [1] The two main leaders of Los Pepes were Don Berna and Fidel Castaño, both former employees of Escobar.[2]


  • Name 1
  • History 2
    • Links to authorities 2.1
    • Aftermath 2.2
  • Depictions 3
  • See also 4
  • Sources 5
  • Notes 6


While the name suggested that all, or most, members of Los Pepes were previously persecuted by Escobar, most likely only a handful of the group's members had suffered at the hands of the notorious drug kingpin. Many members were allegedly rival drug traffickers.[3] Los Pepes were allegedly funded by the rival Cali Cartel, the Castaño Brothers as well as other unknown persons or groups.[4]


Links to authorities

There are reports that Los Pepes had ties to some members of the Colombian National Police, especially the Search Bloc (Bloque de Búsqueda), with whom they exchanged information in order to execute their activities against Escobar.[5] According to documents released to the public by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 2008, "Colombian National Police director general Miguel Antonio Gómez Padilla said 'that he had directed a senior CNP intelligence officer to maintain contact with Fidel Castaño, paramilitary leader of Los Pepes, for the purposes of intelligence collection.'"[6]


After Escobar's death in 1993, several of their leaders eventually went on to become the heads of a national paramilitary alliance in Colombia, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a group that was formed not only for the purpose of fighting the Cartel but also to counter the atrocities committed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist narco-terrorist group that has and still does terrorize the people of Colombia, especially in rural areas. The Castaño Brothers (Carlos 1965-2004, Vicente and Fidel, who went missing in 1994) were founders of several paramilitary groups and the driving force behind the AUC's creation.

Another member of Los Pepes, Diego Murillo Bejarano aka "Don Berna", eventually became Inspector General of the AUC as well as an important drug trafficker with The Office of Envigado.

The Institute for Policy Studies is searching for details of what connections the U.S. CIA and DEA had to Los Pepes. They have launched a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act against the CIA.[7]


Mark Bowden's book Killing Pablo (ISBN 0-14-200095-7) highlights some of the operations of Los Pepes and describes some of the forms of cooperation and support that the group allegedly received from members of the Colombian National Police.

See also



  1. ^ Uppsala Conflict Data Program Conflict Encyclopedia, Colombia, non-state Conflict, Medellín Cartel - PEPES, 1993,®ionSelect=5-Southern_Americas#
  2. ^ Los Pepes: desde Pablo Escobar hasta Don Berna, Macaco y Don Mario, Santiago La Rotta, Natalia Morales, editorial Planeta, 2009
  3. ^ Bowden, 179.
  4. ^ Bowden, 197.
  5. ^ "human rights watch | colombia ? guerra sin cuartel". Retrieved 2011-03-15. 
  6. ^ """Paramilitaries and the United States: "Unraveling the Pepes Tangled Web. Retrieved 2011-03-15. 
  7. ^ "Equipo Nizkor - ¿Cuál fue la relación de la DEA y la CIA con Los Pepes?". Retrieved 2011-03-15. 
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