Colombian Armed Forces Neutralize ELN Criminal

Alias Samuelito was an ELN leader who had an arrest warrant for participating in terrorist acts, among other crimes.
Yolima Dussán/Diálogo | 19 September 2018

Transnational Threats

David Acuña Celis, alias Samuelito, Samuel, or El Profe, neutralized on July 26, 2018, was a key player in the command chain of the National Liberation Army armed group. (Photo: Colombian Army)

The criminal activities of one of the most wanted criminal leaders of the National Liberation Army (ELN, in Spanish) guerrilla group ended July 26th, 2018. Authorities neutralized Jacobo David Acuña Celis, alias Samuelito, Samuel, or El Profe, as the terrorist was known, in a joint operation of the Colombian Armed Forces in San Pablo municipality, south of Bolívar department.

“He was a high-value target. He took part in the kidnapping of the mayors of Simití and San Pablo,” said Colombian Minister of Defense Luis Carlos Villegas, at a press conference. “He led the hijacking of an Avianca Fokker aircraft in Santa Rosa del Sur and the kidnapping of 60 people in Moralitos township, also in Bolívar. He also kidnapped Santa Rosa del Sur’s mayor and ordered the murder of a candidate running for mayor in San Pablo, among other crimes.”

Precise operation

Intelligence alerted authorities about the terrorist’s presence in the area, leading them to take measures against the suspect. According to the National Police, troops of the Joint Special Operations Command (CCOES, in Spanish) neutralized him in a non-combat operation.

“The National Police Intelligence Directorate followed him for a year. Thanks to human sources and electronic means, they found out that he had gone to the south of Bolívar to meet with a woman in the third week of July,” Police said. “The operation included infiltration of service members in the area to establish his presence in the rural area of San Pablo. The insurgent realized that commandos were near and tried to escape; at that moment, he was neutralized.” 

“He was probably the highest-value ELN target we neutralized this year [2018],” Army Major General Jorge Arturo Salgado Restrepo, commander of CCOES, said at a press conference. “He was part of ELN’s national leadership and a direct coordinator of the war front Darío Ramírez Castro, whose criminal operations cover the entire area of Catatumbo in southern Bolívar and northeastern Antioquia. This is a strategic-level result that affects the command and control system of the armed group.”

Thanks to coordinated and interagency work, the Colombian Armed Forces neutralized alias Samuelito in San Pablo municipality, in the south of Bolívar department. (Photo: Colombian Army)

Extensive criminal record

Samuelito was a member of ELN for 30 years. He was part of ELN’s General Staff and was promoted to the insurgent group’s national leadership. He built an extensive criminal record, operating in different fronts and under many ringleaders.

He was responsible for multiple terrorist acts against security forces and civilians. He had an arrest warrant for homicide and for the murder of two Catholic priests in Convención municipality, Norte de Santander, in addition to trafficking and manufacturing drugs.

“This is another result illustrating the importance for forces to work as a team and be able to produce outstanding results for the security of Colombians,” said Major General José Ángel Mendoza Guzmán, deputy director of the National Police. “Police carried out intelligence in this operation, based on human and electronic intelligence sources. Thanks to this, we found out this person’s every move and planned his neutralization jointly with the Army.”

According to the National Police intelligence report, Samuelito often had women around him. His obsession with sex workers helped locate and neutralize him.

“With this operation, the Caribbean and northeast regions of Colombia gain important ground in terms of security, which should have repercussions on the security of social leaders. This operation is an important result and a direct message for this group, whose structure was dealt a hard blow. This person was alias Gabino’s right-hand, a member of ELN’s central command,” Maj. Gen. Mendoza concluded.

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