The Colombian Military Forces and the National Police (PNC) dealt a blow to dissident groups of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) by neutralizing two of their main leaders, Néstor Gregorio Vera, alias Iván Mordisco, and Roque Antonio González Contreras, alias Roque.
“The blow to FARC dissidents will greatly contribute to the process of dismantling these criminal groups, which after the peace agreement have dedicated themselves to organized crime, especially transnational illicit narcotrafficking,” Admiral (ret.) Jorge Moscoso Flores, former head of the Peruvian Armed Forces’ Joint Command, told Diálogo. “These military operations weaken the organization of these armed groups and the neutralization of their leaders affects these organizations that have militarized structures.”
“Alias Roque, leader of the GAOR [residual organized armed group] E-33 of the FARC dissidence in Tibú, Norte de Santander, has fallen,” then Colombian President Iván Duque said following an operation by the PNC and the Colombian Army on July 17.
According to Colombian media, alias Roque led the urban patrols of the 33rd Front in northeastern Colombia, and his capture was made after videos of dissidents wearingcamouflage clothing and FARC armbands in front of the Tibú town hall were broadcast, in a clear challenge to authorities about control of this territory.
Meanwhile, then Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano announced on July 10 that authorities had neutralized another leader, Iván Mordisco, along with nine other dissidents, during Operation Jupiter in a jungle area in the southwest of the country, in Caquetá department.
“With the death of Iván Mordisco we dealt a mortal blow to FARC dissidents,” Molano said via Twitter. “Alias Iván Mordisco never entered the Havana agreement; he sought to reorganize the FARC and expand with 8,000 armed men.”
Molano said that the criminal’s illicit activities included narcotrafficking, extortion, and forced recruitment. Following the death of Miguel Botache Santillana, alias Gentil Duarte (one of Colombia most wanted criminal and a main leader of the FARC dissidence), in Venezuela in May 2022, Mordisco assumed the leadership of dissident fronts formerly under Duarte’s command, InSight Crime, an organization dedicated to the study of organized crime in the Latin American and the Caribbean, indicated. Mordisco was active in the Colombian jungle and the border territories with Venezuela and Ecuador. Thegovernment had a $700,000 reward forinformation on his whereabouts.
“It was months of information gathering, a serious process, with human sources, and criminals from the same structure with whom we made contact,” General Jorge Luis Vargas, PNC director, told the press. “The intelligence was focused on him; the whole gathering process was to get to him.”
Pedro Yaranga, a Peruvian narcotrafficking and terrorism expert, told Diálogo that the security situation in Colombia “is much more complicated than one might think”because FARC dissidents control territoriesin border areas with Venezuela, Peru, and Ecuador, where they promote alliances and economic ties with narcotraffickers.
“The death of both FARC dissidents is a considerable blow, but now dissidents are divided into more than 30 groups and an infinite number of leaders. In other words, it is no longer a single group like the FARC used to be,” Yaranga said. “Now there are several criminal groups with a common economic interest, but without a common political interest.”