On February 16, 2022, Ecuadorian and Colombian intelligence teams joined efforts leading to the capture of Colombian criminal Juan Hernando Hurtado, alias El Paisa, believed to be the fourth leader of the Carlos Patiño armed group, a dissident faction of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, in Spanish). Authorities arrested Hurtado in the Lago Agrio area, Sucumbíos province, the Ecuadorian Armed Forces Joint Command (CCFFAA, in Spanish) said in a statement.
Ecuadorian Army Colonel Milton Rodríguez, commander of the 19th Napo Jungle Brigade, told the Ecuavisa news site that this capture dealt a major blow to FARC dissidents who engage in narcotrafficking. “The border with Colombia heated up again due to the presence of drug crime groups that infiltrated our territory to build drug processing laboratories,” he added.
At the time of the combined forces’ intervention, in which representatives of both countries’ police and offices of the Attorney General participated, El Paisa was carrying 9-mm caliber guns and ammunition and a 5.56-millimeter long gun. He faces charges for narcotrafficking, kidnapping, and extortion, the CCFFAA said.
Ecuadorian military authorities turned over the criminal to their Colombian counterparts on the San Miguel River International Bridge, in Sucumbíos.
“We thwarted the expansion of FARC dissidents into Ecuador. In a joint operation by the Colombian and Ecuadorian armies, we captured alias El Paisa, who was attempting to take over as commander of the FARC dissident criminal group on the border,” Colombian Minister of Defense Diego Molano said on Twitter.
According to Colombia’s W Radio, El Paisa was wanted by Interpol.