US Indicts Top Leaders of Colombian Narco-Terrorists FARC
by Jim Kouri, CPP
(The following is based on a multi-page report submitted to the National Association of Chiefs of Police by the US Department of Justice. For security reasons this article is abridged.)
Leaders of the Marxist group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, or FARC, in Colombia were indicted in US federal court on charges of importing more than $25 billion worth of cocaine into the United States and other countries, according to US Department of Justice officials.
Growing out of the turmoil and fighting in the 1950s between liberal and conservative militias, the FARC was established in 1964 by the Colombian Communist Party to defend what were then autonomous Communist-controlled rural areas.
The FARC is Latin America’s oldest, largest, most capable, and best-equipped insurgency of Marxist origin. Although only nominally fighting in support of Marxist goals today, the FARC is governed by a general secretariat led by longtime leader Manuel Marulanda and six others, including senior military commander Jorge Briceno (a.k.a. “Mono Jojoy”). It is organized along military lines and includes several units that operate mostly in key urban areas such as Bogota, accordong to the Federation for Strategic Science.
In 2003, the FARC conducted several high profile terrorist attacks, including a February car-bombing of a Bogota nightclub that killed more than 30 persons and wounded more than 160, as well as a November grenade attack in Bogota’s restaurant district that wounded three Americans.
From their jungle hideaway, the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) uses the drug trade to bankroll Marxist terrorism in Colombia, finance attacks on innocent citizens, and poison Americans.
Colombian coca farmers who violated FARC rules were shot, stabbed, or dismembered alive, and the bodies of murdered farmers were cut open, filled with rocks, and sunk in nearby rivers. The defendants also allegedly ordered FARC members to kidnap and murder US citizens to discourage the US government from disrupting the FARC’s drug trafficking activities.
The one-count indictment, returned last Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Washington, DC, names as defendants 50 leaders of the FARC, a designated foreign terrorist organization. Three of the charged FARC leaders are currently in custody in Colombia and the United States is in the process of extraditing them on the charges.
In addition, the US Department of State is offering more than $75 million worth of rewards for information that leads to the capture of the remaining FARC leaders.
This indictment strikes at the very heart of the FARC narcotics operation that has flooded our communities with cocaine. Because of the cooperation between US and Colombian authorities, officials in Washington believe we are closer than ever before to reaching our goal of bringing the leaders of this narco-terrorist group to justice in the United States.
According to government figures, the FARC currently supplies more than 50 percent of the world’s cocaine and more than 60 percent of the cocaine that enters the United States. The FARC initially taxed other narcotics traffickers involved in the manufacture and distribution of cocaine in areas the FARC controlled. The Colombian drug cartels created a network that included FARC as security for trafficking and for assassination of Colombian government and police officials viewed as a danger to the drug trade.
Recognizing the increased profits available the FARC decided to become directly involved in the production and distribution of cocaine by setting the prices to be paid to farmers across Colombia for cocaine paste, the raw material used to produce cocaine, and transporting cocaine paste to jungle laboratories. FARC also began to control the finished cocaine and then shipped large quantities out of Colombia to the United States and other countries.
With cocaine becoming the “lifeblood” of the FARC, the charged FARC leaders collected millions of dollars in cocaine proceeds and used the money to purchase weapons for the FARC’s terrorist activities against the government and people of Colombia.
This enormous infusion of cash enables the leftists to purchase high-tech weapons and military equipment to use for their primary mission -- the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Colombia. FARC is taking guerrilla warfare to a new level.
According to the US indictment, the charged FARC leaders used terrorism and violence to further the FARC’s cocaine-trafficking activities. The charged FARC leaders ordered that Colombian farmers who sold cocaine paste to non-FARC buyers or otherwise violated the FARC’s strict cocaine policies be murdered, it was charged.
According to the indictment, the charged FARC leaders authorized their members to shoot down US eradication aircraft , and they plotted to retaliate against US law enforcement officers who were conducting the investigation into the FARC’s narcotics activities.
The United States will immediately seek to extradite three of the charged FARC leaders who are currently in custody in Colombia. Jorge Enrique Rodriguez Mendieta, a/k/a "Ivan Vargas," Erminso Cuevas Cabrera, a/k/a "Mincho," and Juan Jose Martinez Vega, a/k/a "Gentil Alvis Patino,” a/k/a "Chiguiro,” will each be served with an United States provisional arrest warrant based on the indictment. This is the first step in the extradition process. These three defendants led the FARC’s cocaine-trafficking activities in various ways.
In addition, US State Department is offering rewards of more than $75 million for information leading to the capture of 24 of the FARC leaders charged in the indictment. Specifically, the State Department is offering rewards of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest of the seven members of the FARC Secretariat, the ultimate policy and decision-making body of the criminal enterprise.
The State Department also is offering rewards of up to $2.5 million for information leading to the arrest of seventeen additional charged FARC leaders who are members of the FARC’s Estado Mayor or governing council.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.