Guerrilla Who Guarded Kidnapped Americans Arrested in Colombia

By Dialogo
February 23, 2011

so you see
Alleged Colombian guerrilla Alexander Beltrán, sought for extradition by the United States and suspected of guarding three Americans whom the FARC kidnapped and held for five years, has been arrested by the police, Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera announced.

“Alexander Beltrán, responsible for the kidnapping of the three Americans, has been legally arrested. We arrested him in Cartagena (1,000 km north of Bogotá), and he will now surely be turned over to the U.S. authorities,” the minister announced in an interview with the radio station Caracol on 22 February.

Beltrán, alias Rodrigo Pirinolo, moved to Cartagena following the military operation that killed Jorge Briceño or Mono Jojoy, a leader of the communist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in September, the Colombian police’s anti-kidnapping group indicated.

An extradition request for his appearance before a Colombian court, on the basis of a U.S. indictment handed down on 14 December 2010, is pending against Beltrán, who is accused of homicide, rebellion, terrorism, and illegal weapons possession.

According to the police, the FARC Secretariat (high command) in 2003 ordered Beltrán’s transfer to the squad led by Helí Mejía (alias Martín Sombra [Martin Shadow]), who made him responsible for guarding Thomas Howes, Keith Stansell, and Marc Gonsalves, kidnapped on 12 February of that year in the department of Caquetá.

The three Americans, State Department contractors, were rescued on 2 July 2008 in a bloodless military operation in which Colombian-French politician Ingrid Betancourt and eleven military and police personnel were also freed.

Colombia previously extradited to the United States a FARC leader who participated in the kidnapping of the Americans, although the country’s Supreme Court of Justice later refused to send two other guerrillas to that country.