EPP: Combining Kidnappings and Crime

By Dialogo
June 04, 2013

The murder of well-known Paraguayan rancher Luis Lindstrom, a cattle breeder and exporter killed by the self-defined Paraguayan People’s Army or EPP for its Spanish name, on May 31, stirred the country, the first in the Atlantic region to record an armed insurgency in decades.

The mysterious Marxist-Leninist leaning group, proven to have ties to the Colombian FARC, is estimated to have no more than thirty members and concentrates its terrorist activity on kidnappings, crimes and attacks on police stations.

The EPP operates in the north, an area that is difficult to reach by land, located between the departments of Concepción and San Pedro, the poorest in the country.

A column of the criminal organization shot Lindstrom seven times with automatic weapons. His body was discovered next to his vehicle, possibly after having tried to escape the ambush by foot.

Lindstrom’s life had already been spared during an extortive kidnapping, between July and September 2008, after paying a ransom of $130,000.

Following a raid on a house owned by EPP leader Alejandro Ramos, the specialized police recovered part of the money.

However, Lindstrom admitted afterwards that he returned the money to guerrilla emissaries who threatened to kill him and his family.

In March 2008, the group broke into the ranch of a Brazilian national and destroyed his agricultural machinery, valued at $400,000.

In January 2010, the EPP released another well-known rancher, Fidel Zavala, after holding him captive for 100 days, and getting paid a ransom of $550,000. The cattle breeder is brother to the current Paraguayan Minister of Industry and Commerce, Diego Zavala.

Another raid in the same region confiscated written documents from the EPP, verifying its links to the Colombian FARC. Pictures and documents revealed details of trips to Colombia for military training.

EPP members “were trained in Colombia and now they are putting into practice everything they learned,” said Sandra Quiñonez, specialized prosecutor in counter insurgency.