An alleged initiative by members of the ‘la Oficina de Envigado’ and ‘los Urabeños” criminal gang to engage in talks with the Government is unknown to authorities and people close to mediation processes in Medellín. The Police Department, the Mayoralty of Medellín, and the Catholic Church have all denied having any type of contact with the members of groups that for the past four years have been engaged in violent territorial disputes and are the culprits behind acts of murder, extortion, kidnapping, and micro-drug trafficking.
According to Jaime Jaramillo Panesso, commissioner in reconciliation processes, the rumor has been going around for a few months, “but the truth is that there hasn’t been clarity because, until now, the Government has reiterated that criminal organizations only have the option to turn themselves in to authorities, as they are not participants in the armed conflict and therefore can’t benefit from a demobilization process.”
The Police Department made a similar statement, and said it’s unaware of a pact among groups known as the “rifle pact”. Colombia’s Justice Minister Alfonso Gomez Mendez, ruled out the possibility of negotiating with these gangs and said “nothing in terms of their willingness to surrender has been communicated.”
The Archdiocese of Medellín also denied claims that Archbishop Ricardo Tobֶón has been communicating with members of said gangs to facilitate negotiation with the Government.
However, a number of activist groups and even the Archbishop said it would be positive to support some type of initiative that would encourage these illegal groups to abandon criminal activity, reincorporate themselves into society, and reconcile with their victims.