Colombian National Army captures an ELN leader ‘Ernesto’
By Dialogo October 03, 2014
For 18 years, an operative known as “Ernesto” worked his way up the ranks of the National Liberation Army and evaded capture by Colombian security forces.
But his luck ran out on September 16, when soldiers with the Colombian National Army’s Second Division and agents with the Technical Investigation Corps (CTI) used intelligence to capture him in the town of San Pablo, in a rural region in the department of Bolivar. They also rescued a male juvenile, who soldiers suspect Ernesto of recruiting about six months earlier. Additionally, they recovered a fragmentation grenade, 34 rounds of ammunition of different calibers, and documents relating to operations the ELN is planning, according to Vanguardia.
Ernesto is top lieutenant of ELN leader ‘Familia’
Army officials believe Ernesto, about 42 years old and a native of Remedios, Antioquia, is the second-in-command in the ELN’s Heroes and Martyrs of St. Rosa Front.
That makes him the alleged right-hand man of an ELN commander known as “Familia,” who’s suspected of coordinating terrorist support networks and organizing schemes to extort mine owners, palm oil farmers, and other business people and inhabitants in San Pablo and Cantagallo, another town in Bolivar. Familia has also allegedly worked for the ELN as an explosives instructor.
Ernesto, meanwhile, became Familia’s top lieutenant after security forces captured “Marcos Embalado” in February. At the time, Marcos Embalado was the leader of the ELN’s Heroes and Martyrs of St. Rosa Front. The ELN moved Ernesto from the rural areas of Antioquia to southern Bolívar to fill the position left vacant by the arrest of Marcos Embalado.
Strong blow against the ELN: analyst
“It is a strong blow to the ELN to lose a leader with as much experience as Ernesto has,” said Néstor Alfonso Rosanía, director of the Center for Security, Defense and International Affairs Studies (CESDAI), in Colombia.
“However, the organizational structure will allow a new leader to arise quickly within the group…each leader has a second and even third line replacement in the wings, who are at the same structural level but never from the same geographical area. This minimizes the impact of casualties and arrests.”
“The guerrilla forces in Colombia have a collegiate command structure. The authorities have struck a disheartening blow to ELN’s guerrilla fighters with this arrest, and the authorities will continue the fight.”
Ernesto’s capture also removes from the ELN one of the terrorist group’s key recruiters of children.
“The ELN is becoming ever more deeply involved in recruiting uneducated minors in rural areas…[it’s] a human rights violation, both domestically and internationally. Undoubtedly, Colombian judicial system will open a case against the former ELN leader on those charges; legally, they must charge him.”
Security forces deal strong blows to the ELN
This most recent arrest is just the latest in series of captures or killings of ELN leaders during the last nine months:
On June 14, Colombian police captured Alfredo Hernández as he watched a World Cup match at his home in the department of Bolívar. Before he was captured, Hernández, who is also known as “Mocho” or “Elkin”, was the alleged leader of the ELN’s Luis José Solano Sepúlveda Front.
On May 26, Army soldiers with the 16th Cavalry Unit, attached to the 16th Brigade, killed Rito Ramón Barreto, an ELN leader who was also known as “Llanero” or “Criollo”. Llanero was the second in command of the ELN’s José Adonay Ardila Front.
A little more than a month before soldiers killed Llanero, on April 19, Army soldiers killed an ELN regional leader who was known as “El Pollo” during an operation in the department of Bolivar.
On December 25, 2013, soldiers with the Nueva Granada Batallion captured “Nelson,” a high-ranking leader of the ELN’s Heroes and Martyrs of St. Rosa Front, which operates in the Las Pavas region of Simití, Bolívar.
These captures and killings have hampered the terrorist group’s ability to carry out attacks, and continue to protect the civilian population of Colombia.
The public forces do more without making these captures public and working quietly without making such a fuss because after a few days these enemies of calmness in the regions won't take revenge. Chek it out and you will see the results SUPER, IN FRONT THIS IS OUR NATIONAL ARMY I like getting news about these bandits when the authorities catch them, but even so, that terrible scourge has no end. May the Lord bless our heroes of the National Army and the police, who expose their lives to give the Colombian people a measure of peace. We think it's excellent that the information reaches us in Colombia