Alias Pija, wanted by Interpol, is charged with homicide, kidnapping, and other crimes.
Colombian authorities captured Reinel Natalio García Mojica, alias Pija, leader of a residual Organized Armed Group (GAO in Spanish) of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, in Spanish) that operated in Cauca and Casanare departments. The Unified Action Group for Personal Freedom Arauca, attached to the Colombian Army’s Eighth Division, and the Judiciary Police Against Organized Crime of the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia combined forces in an operation that resulted in his arrest, June 7, 2018.
“About six months of intelligence work from troops and intelligence service members led us to capture the subject,” Brigadier General Álvaro Vicente Pérez Durán, commander of the Colombian Army’s Task Force Quirón, told Diálogo. “Pija constantly moved from one place to another; he had security rings who did intelligence for him to conceal his location.”
In early June, authorities set up a unit in the municipality of Tame, Arauca, where military troops deployed in the area around his house. “Thanks to the training of our troops, we were able to get inside the external ring that protected him and capture him,” Brig. Gen. Pérez said. According to the Army, authorities seized war material, ammunition, and valuable military intelligence documents. All was handed over to the competent authorities.
Alias Pija’s criminal record includes assault against security forces, including three attacks in the departments of Cauca and Santander, where six soldiers were killed and six others were injured. He is also accused of killing three civilians and a police officer with a car bomb that exploded at a police station in the municipality of Villa Rica, Cauca.
The man is also charged with attacking a military base in Santana, Cauca, where he kidnapped one police officer, killed a second one, and hurt another. According to the Ministry of Defense of Colombia, alias Pija had an Interpol arrest warrant and will face additional charges for illicit recruiting, manufacturing, trafficking, and carrying weapons and explosives meant for the exclusive use of the armed forces.
“So far this year , we have [apprehended] 20 dissidents in regional military operations,” said Brig. Gen. Pérez. “A few days ago [on June 13th], the Colombian Air Force, Army, and the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia carried out a joint interagency operation near the municipality of Fortul, in the department of Arauca, where 18 dissidents were [neutralized].” The group was wanted for several terrorist acts, such as the attack on a nurse at Hospital de Saravena in Arauca, a pistol plan against the population and security forces in the region, and attacks against oil infrastructure, the General Command of the Colombian Military Forces reported in a press release.
“The department of Arauca works with the National Police, the Office of the Attorney General, the Navy, the Colombian Air Force, and the Army, uniting all their capabilities to counter instability in the region,” Brig. Gen. Pérez said. The rest of the country also saw results. “To date [July 13th], we’ve neutralized 479 residual GAO members, which is practically a third of their armed force—53 were killed in military operations, 312 were captured, and 114 were brought to justice,” Colombian Minister of Defense Luis Carlos Villegas told the press.