The joint interagency operation hit many FARC dissidents.
Colombia dealt a new blow to dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, in Spanish), neutralizing 11 people and apprehending two. Alias Edwin, a key terrorist of the FARC’s Seventh Front, a Residual Organized Armed Group (GAOR, in Spanish), intending to settle in the department of Caquetá, was among the casualties. The Colombian Army’s Sixth Division, through its Third Joint Command and in cooperation with the Unified Action Group for Personal Freedom (GAULA, in Spanish) from Caquetá, and the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia, carried out the operation.
“We were able to remove alias Edwin, a dangerous individual with a long criminal record—and a great talent for escaping and reappearing—who has been intimidating the population for several years through extortions,” General César Augusto Parra, commander of the Colombian Army’s Sixth Division, told Diálogo. “With the operation over, we checked the information obtained about alias Cadete, the head of the GAOR, Edwin’ boss. He will be neutralized in no time.”
Authorities conducted the operation May 28, 2018 in Miramar de Montañita, department of Caquetá. Intelligence was able to locate the cell after detecting a video on social media. The footage showed alias Edwin, one of the leaders of Cadete’s group, threatening the authorities, regional company executives, and the local population.
On May 6th, the group had also published a video announcing the beginning of a “pistol plan,” a tactic that consists of shooting in the back those who don’t give in to extortions. To counter this plan, the Colombian Air Force’s (FAC, in Spanish) Sixth Air Combat Command led a military operation to detect the location of criminals, pull up intelligence footage for infiltration, and escort land troops.
The targets: Cadete and Edwin
The military increased its response against the FARC GAOR in several parts of the country. Authorities want to prevent dissidents from taking over communities known to have been former guerrilla settlements. “The operation is crucial to dismantle remnant cells,” Colombian Minister of Defense Luis Carlos Villegas said. “These actions show the commitment of the military to protect civilians, and their renewed capacities to confront FARC dissidents.”
The goal of the Army-led operation was to neutralize Osnar Ordely Méndez Galvis, a criminal also known as Edwin or Sabajón, among the main threats to the town of Cartagena del Chairá, Caquetá. The terrorist was a menace to shopkeepers, farmers, and public officials of Florencia, Caquetá’s capital, and other communities. He had publicly threatened the mayor of Florencia as well as the manager and workers of the local electric company.
Control of illicit crops
Narcotrafficking fuels remnant groups. “Alias Gentil Duarte, commander of dissidents operating in the department of Guaviare, sent Seventh Front dissidents toward Putumayo to control illicit crops in the area,” said Army General Alberto José Mejía Ferrero, commander of the Military Forces, explaining cells’ movements in the region. “GAOR’s structures in the eastern Andes are divided. The First Front operates from Guaviare to the north, toward Arauca. In the south, the Seventh Front moves toward Putumayo to control illicit crops. Disrupting groups is an important [task] that prevents a chain of events leading to the reorganization of all groups in this part of the country that want to control illicit crops.”
An air component kicked off the military operation that followed with more than 30 minutes of ground combat. Drones and Schwizer aircraft carried out FAC’s reconnaissance mission, allowing for the planning of the exercise, armed reconnaissance, air escort, illumination of the maneuver area with AC-47 aircraft known as Spooky, and transport of personnel with Bell Huey II helicopters. A 14-year-old minor, who received immediate medical attention from combat medics, was among the two apprehended.
“It was important to bring some peace to the people of the region with the fall of alias Edwin, who extorted more than 90 people. We will recover the area. People believe more and more in the Military Forces, in GAULA, in the military component. They believe we work to control groups and prevent their growth,” Gen. Parra concluded.