Death To Kidnappers (Muerte a Secuestradores) (Colombia)

Country: Colombia
Details of Formation: The kidnapping of the daughter of an Ochoa clan leader by guerilla led to the formation of the MAS. It was formed in 1981 by Medellin Cartel drug lords including Pablo Escobar and others (Stanford). Wikipedia suggests that additionally to the Medellin cartel, the Colombian military, the US-based corporation Texas Petroleum, the Colombian legislature, small industrialists and wealthy cattle ranchers came together to form the MAS (Wikipedia).
Details of Termination: In 1997, paramilitary groups united into a single organisation known as Colombian United Self-Defences (AUC). AUC thus became the successor PGM to the MAS (Human Rights Watch).
Purpose: MAS main purpose was to fight rebels and provide protection for local elites. This included fighting those political opposition which had ties to guerilla groups or opposed drug trafficking. (Wikipedia)
Organisation: MAS was supported by drug cartels, US corporations, politicians and wealthy landowners. In 1984, the Association of Middle Magdalena Ranchers and Farmers (ACDEGAM) was created to handle the logistics and public relations of MAS and to act as a legal front for them. Anyone who was against the interests of ACDEGAM was attacked by MAS (Wikipdedia). Stanford mentions that MAS was allied with the Colombian military (Stanford). The Colombian Navy allegedly entered a partnership with the MAS in the city of Barrancabermeja (Wikipedia “Right-wing paramilitarism in Colombia”). A news source adds that the group was financed by more than 200 drug lords and that they handed over guerillas to the army.
Weapons and Training: The MAS received cash from powerful drug traffickers to pay for weaponry, equipment and training. They had modern battle rifles such as the Galil, HK G3, FN FAL and AKM, which were purchased frm the military and NUNDIL and through drug-funded private sales. MAS had thirty pilots and an assortment of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. Foreign military instructors from the US, Israel, Britain and Australia were hired to teach at paramilitary training centres. (Wikipedia)
Size: The MAS initially had 2,230 fighters (Stanford); during the mid-1980s they experienced a significant growth (Wikipedia). By the mid 1990s the MAS weakened in strength and numbers (Stanford).
Reason for Membership: Most members and supporters of the group had suffered under guerilla violence (Wikipedia).
Treatment of Civilians: MAS killed hundreds of Union Patriotica members, a political party with ties to the FARC, and M-19 allied party members of the Democratic Alliance (Stanford). It also killed community leaders, elected officials and farmers (Wikipedia). According to a news source, it was also responsible for disappearances.
Other Information: Death to Kidnappers is also known by their Spanish name Muerte a Secuestradores or their abbreviation MAS. (Wikipedia). In 1992, MAS created alongside the Cali drug cartel and dissidents the paramilitary organisation PEPES (People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar), aiming at killing Escobar and his associates (Wikipedia “Right-wing paramilitarism in Colombia”). PEPES is coded as part of the paramilitaries self-defense groups/death squads (informal) umbrella PGM.
References: Human Rights Watch. 2010. “Paramilitaries’ Heirs. The New Face of Violence in Colombia.” ISBN: 1-56432-594-6

Stanford. “Mapping Militant Organizations.” http://web.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/maps/view/colombia

Wikipedia. “Muerte a Secuestradores”. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Muerte_a_Secuestradores&oldid=810345462

Wikipedia. “Right-wing paramilitarism in Colombia”. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Right-wing_paramilitarism_in_Colombia&oldid=747128716