Paul Schäfer, a former Luftwaffe paramedic, was the founder and first leader ("Permanent Uncle") of Colonia Dignidad. He had left Germany in 1961, after being accused of sexually abusing two boys. On May 20, 1997, he fled Chile, pursued by authorities investigating charges that he had molested 26 children of the colony. In March, 2005, he was arrested in Argentina and extradited to Chile. (Schäfer is also wanted for questioning about the disappearance in 1985 of Boris Weisfeiler, an American Jewish mathematics professor of Russian birth.)
Twenty-two other members of Colonia Dignidad, including Dr. Hartmut Hopp, the second-in-command, have been found guilty of aiding the child molestation.
In June and July 2005, Chilean police found two arms caches in or around the colony. The first, within the colony itself, included three containers with machine guns, automatic rifles, rocket launchers, and large quantities of ammunition, some as much as forty years old; even a battle tank was found under the ground: this cache was described as the largest arsenal ever found in private hands in Chile. The second cache, outside a restaurant operated by the colony, included rocket launchers and grenades."