Colombian National Army captures alleged FARC extortionists
By Dialogo September 19, 2014
The Colombian National Army struck strong blows against the finances of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in early September by capturing five alleged leaders of extortion rings for the terrorist group.
The Colombian Army announced September 16 the capture of a man as he allegedly collected an extortion payment from a woman in a park in the Yarumal municipality, north of Antioquia. The payment was for two million pesos. The suspect, who is 26, identified himself as a member of the FARC.
Troops from the Unified Action Group for Personal Liberty (GAULA) in Antioquia and agents with the Attorney General’s office cooperated to arrest the suspect after receiving tips from Yarumal residents, the Army said. The residents reported that a man was threatening them with violence if they did not make extortion payments. Many of the threats were allegedly delivered during phone calls.
The Army arrests four other extortion suspects
The Army announced September 9 that soldiers, working in cooperation with agents from the Colombian National Police (PNC), had captured four alleged members of the financial commission of the 27th Front of the FARC. The four suspects were allegedly demanding extortion payments from farmers, merchants, and business people in the region.
Soldiers captured the four suspects as part of Operation Justice in the rural area of Vista Hermosa Meta.
The Army identified the four suspects as Negro Caimán, who is also known as “Fabián;” Álvaro Guerrero, who is also known as “El Tuerto;” Betty Mico Concuerda; a man known as “Alirio” or “Chonto.” Alirio is particularly important to the terrorist group because he is suspected of being a sniper and a bodyguard for a FARC operative who is known as “Chorizo,” the alleged leader of the financial commission of 27th Front.
“That commission is in charge of extortions and intimidations with improvised explosive devices of farmers, merchants, workers, drivers and businesspeople in the municipality of Vista Hermosa, to compel them to pay their quotas,” said the Colombian Army in a statement. “This group had also participated in burning public transportation buses, and damaging the energy and road infrastructure of the municipality.”
“At the time of the detention, alias Alirio had 26 million pesos in extortion money, six cellphones, seven SIM cards, a Pietro Beretta 9mm pistol and documents of interest for military intelligence. The captured were charged with rebellion and illegal enrichment.”
FARC uses extortion to fund terrorism
The FARC relies heavily on extortion proceeds to finance its terrorist activities, according to Yadira Gálvez González, a security analyst at the National Autónomous University of Mexico (UNAM). The FARC often targets oil companies for extortion. Capturing FARC operatives who engage in extortion disrupts the terrorist group’s finances.
“The Ministry of Defense has been proactive in approaching the oil companies to reassure them of the work that it’s being done [to prevent the extortion], as well as to establish direct lines to report the crimes. This is necessary to avoid at any cost that these groups continue the extortion of these companies.”
The FARC is increasing its extortion activities because security forces have succeeded in cracking down on much of the terrorist group’s drug trafficking activity, the security analyst said.
“The extortion of merchants is becoming an alternative source of funding given the loss of money from drug trafficking. Obviously, it is not the same amount of money, but these groups are trying to identify other sources. Medellín, Bogotá and other big cities are the centers of extortion.”
The arrests of the four extortion suspects who are allegedly part of 27th Front will damage the group’s ability to carry out attacks, the Army said in a written statement.
“The 27th Front has been hit hard by this operation because we have taken out of circulation an important part of the financial commission, since it lost highly experienced men who would be hard to replace quickly.”
“It will be very difficult to access logistical support, food, weapons and explosives because we have neutralized their key pieces. This is also a respite for the population and the businesses of the region, which had been suffering from the plague of extortion by these bandits. Our operations are constant, the 27th Front will not be able to recover the criminal zone we have taken away from them.”
Between January 1 and early September 2014, the GAULA unit attached to the Fourth Brigade has captured at least 97 extortion suspects.
Let us hope we arrive at a peace agreement soon because of the victims of the FARC Too bad President Santos gives the FARC breathing room in Cuba! They aren't there as terrorists! The so-called secretariat is safe and the only one missing is JoaquÃn Gomez and they'll all be safe!