BOGOTA, Colombia — For years Edison Prado was one of the top U.S. drug targets in South America, having allegedly risen from beginnings as a boatman running drugs in the treacherous coastal waters of his native Ecuador to the bloodthirsty head of a small army of smugglers spread across five countries.
So it came as something of a shock when the man dubbed the high-living Pablo Escobar of Ecuador showed up on a list of hardscrabble leftist rebels from Colombia.
His case and others like it are now at the center of a heated debate about whether powerful drug capos and other criminals are trying to evade justice by exploiting terms of the government’s peace treaty with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — allegations that threaten to undermine already-shaky efforts to end a half-century of political violence.
Under the terms of last year’s peace deal, FARC rebels will be spared jail time in exchange for laying down their weapons and confessing their war crimes to special peace tribunals. For thousands of one-time FARC members serving long sentences, that’s tantamount to a get-out-of-jail card. …