SOA Instructor Who Oversaw Dozens of Killings Commands US-Aided Unit
Written by John Lindsay-Poland, FOR   
A key vehicle for US military aid in Colombia is a special operations unit, known by its Spanish acronym CCOES. The unit is sent in after bombing runs to gather bodies of guerrillas and other material. CCOES is the Colombian counterpart to the US Joint Special Operations Command, which conducts secret targeted killings around the world.

In September, a former WHINSEC instructor, General Jaime Lasprilla Villamizar, took over command of CCOES, after running another focus of US military assistance in Colombia, Task Force Omega, which received tens of millions of dollars in US training, supplies and equipment, under Washington’s ill-conceived drug war and ‘war on terror.’

There is just one catch. In 2006-2007, Lasprilla directed the Ninth Brigade in Colombia’s Huila Department, which was responsible for more than 80 killings of civilians under his command.  Under the US Leahy Law, aiding a foreign unit is prohibited if there is credible information that the unit’s commander committed gross human rights abuses. To abide by Leahy Law, Washington must end its assistance to Lasprilla’s CCOES unit.

Most of the killings committed under Lasprilla in Huila are called “false positives,” many under investigation by Colombian human rights prosecutors. “False positives” were executions of civilians by troops who then claimed the victims were guerrillas killed in combat. The Army reportedly carried out more than 4,000 such killings from 2002 to 2010.

Lasprilla was an instructor at WHINSEC in 2002-2003, and studied for a year at the National Defense University in Washington in 2005-06, just before his deployment to Huila.

Take action: Write Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, Tom Malinowski, at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it and urge him to apply Leahy Law to Lasprilla’s special operations unit.
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