Description: the Guerillas and the Drugtrade
moribundo - September 15, 2007 11:32 AM (GMT)
Major drug trafficker of the FARC killed
Colombia says kills top guerrilla commander
Mon Sep 3, 2007 9:41pm BST
BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombian soldiers killed a guerrilla leader wanted by the United States for drug trafficking in a major blow to Latin America's oldest insurgency, authorities said on Monday.
Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos said Tomas Medina, known as "El Negro Acacio" (The Black Acacia) and a senior figure involved in drugs and arms smuggling for the FARC rebels, was killed with 16 other guerrillas in a weekend bombing of his jungle camp.
"This is without a doubt the severest blow to the FARC's logistics," Santos said. "He was a key to FARC financing and support and controlled drug trafficking and purchase of arms, explosives and munitions in the east of the country."
Under President Alvaro Uribe, Colombia's armed forces have pushed the FARC back into the jungles and violence from the 40-year conflict has eased. But the rebels are still a potent force -- 11 soldiers were killed in an ambush at the weekend.
Aided by billions in U.S. military aid, Uribe has promised to defeat the FARC, which began as a peasant army in the 1960s fighting for a socialist state, but which is now engaged in the country's huge cocaine trafficking trade.
Medina has been accused of working with a top Brazilian drug trafficker who was captured in southern Colombia in 2001 and deported to Brazil. He operated in the remote jungle areas near Venezuela's border with Brazil.
Santos said troops who searched the camp after it was bombarded by military aircraft could not find the rebel's body. But he said intelligence sources, including some from the FARC, proved Medina was killed in the assault.
The blow to the FARC -- Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia -- comes as Uribe tries to negotiate the release of scores of hostages held for years by the rebels, including French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and three American contract workers.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez last week said during a visit to Bogota that he planned to hold talks with a top FARC representative in Venezuela in an effort to break a deadlock over exchanging hostages for jailed guerrillas.
Hollander - May 26, 2008 10:04 AM (GMT)
Colombian Guerrillas Confirm Leader's Death
26 May 2008, Monday
FARC leader Manuel Marulanda Velez was reported dead.
The leader of Colombia's largest rebel group has died, a senior commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) announced.
Manuel Marulanda Velez, died in the arms of his companion, senior FARC rebel commander Timoleon Jimenez said in a taped speech, as cited by CNN.
Marulanda died March 26 of a heart attack in a forested hideout, Jimenez said and added that Marulanda, 77, was replaced by Alfonso Cano, a longtime ideologue for the group.
Marulanda, a devoted Marxist, gained many adherents for the oldest and most resilient leftist insurgent group in Latin America and his death is a huge blow for FARC.
The organisation has recently lost commanders Raul Reyes and Ivan Rios, both killed in military operations, while chief financier Simon Trinidad is serving a 60-year sentence in a US prison.
Established in 1964 as the military wing of the Colombian Communist Party, FARC is Colombia's oldest, largest, and best-equipped rebel organisation.
GangstersInc - June 18, 2008 05:58 AM (GMT)
Columbian cocaine kingpin pleads guilty to smuggling tons into city
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Tuesday, June 17th 2008, 9:55 AM
Diego Murillo faces between 27 and 33 years in jail.
One of Colombia's most notorious paramilitary warlords has pleaded guilty in New York to charges that his forces smuggled tons of cocaine into the United States.
Diego Murillo was one of 14 Colombian paramilitary leaders extradited to the U.S. last month to face drug charges.
He entered the surprise plea Tuesday in a Manhattan federal court, just 35 days after arriving on U.S. soil.
The plea bargain calls for him to serve between 27 and 33 years in prison.
Prosecutors say that under Murillo's leadership, the right-wing United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia became one of the biggest suppliers of cocaine to New York.
Human rights groups also blame Murillo for hundreds of murders in Colombia.
Hollander - June 30, 2008 11:03 AM (GMT)
NYC cop helps bring down once untouchable Colombian drug lord
By DAVID B. CARUSO Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK June 18, 2008 (AP) The Associated Press
(AP)For two decades Diego Murillo was among Colombia's most feared and untouchable drug lords, accused of hundreds of murders as an enforcer for the cocaine cartels and leader of a right-wing paramilitary group.
Now the man known in Colombia as Don Berna is in prison after pleading guilty in Manhattan to drug trafficking charges, brought down by a U.S. probe that began with a New York City cop.
"For a long time, we never knew if we would get this guy," said NYPD detective John Barry, who was in federal court Tuesday to watch Murillo enter his plea. "Five years of work. All that traveling. The long hours ... It's tremendously gratifying."
Murillo's surprise plea came just 35 days after he arrived in handcuffs on U.S. soil. Speaking through an interpreter, the 47-year-old acknowledged he had conspired with military, political and "anti-communist" forces to smuggle tons of cocaine into the U.S.
His plea agreement calls for him to serve between 27 and 33 years in prison; prosecutors, as a condition of his extradition, had assured the Colombian government they would not seek a life sentence.
The plea was a tremendous victory for a New York task force that spent more than five years gathering evidence tying Murillo to narcotics smuggling. The investigation's roots date to late 2002 when Barry first heard Murillo's name from an informant.
A suspect in a midlevel trafficking investigation said he had once been kidnapped by Murillo's henchmen after a load of cocaine he was moving was seized by authorities in Houston. The coke may have been gone, the kidnappers said, but Don Berna still wanted his money.
Intrigued, Barry asked federal prosecutors about Don Berna — and got an earful.
Murillo had gotten his start as an underling to Pablo Escobar but later turned on the cocaine kingpin, leading a vigilante group that eroded his power and reportedly played a role in his 1993 death at the hands of a government strike force.
Later, he emerged as the new underworld power in Medellin, pacifying its unruly streets and becoming involved in the United Self-Defense Forces of Columbia, a group initially formed to fight leftist guerrillas that became a political force as it enriched itself with drug trafficking and massive land theft. The militia, known by its Spanish initials, AUC, had at least 15,000 armed fighters and controlled entire regions of Colombia.
Human rights groups claim Murillo is responsible directly or indirectly for hundreds of murders; Reporters Without Borders named him the world's No. 6 "predator" of journalists.
As a younger man, he was the target of an assassination attempt that left his body riddled with gunshot wounds. The attack cost him part of one leg and paralyzed muscles in his face, but somehow, he survived.
"The local legend," Barry said, "is that he reappeared on the streets of Medellin with a crutch under one arm and a machine gun under the other."
Baby Snatching: An Adoption Reality Working from information provided by the informant, a team of Drug Enforcement Administration agents, state police and city cops including Barry hunted for other jailed suspects willing to talk about drug smuggling networks.
The investigators pored over bank and shipping records, tracking money and cocaine through Colombia, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and New York.
In 2004 a grand jury in Manhattan charged Murillo with heading an organization that trafficked tons of cocaine into U.S. cities. But getting Colombia to extradite Murillo proved as hard as building the case.
In a savvy career move, Murillo had inserted himself into Colombian politics, taking advantage of an amnesty deal under which paramilitary leaders who demobilized their fighters could get reduced jail terms and protection from extradition.
Under the deal, paramilitary leaders were supposed to confess to their crimes during hearings. But Murillo — who by then had been jailed for allegedly ordering the assassination of a politician — wound up admitting little.
When victims were urged to come forward, 13,000 people lodged complaints, though given his clout and weaknesses in Colombia's judicial system, few thought he would face justice.
Even his prison cell was cushy — a suite with an office, fax machine, phones and a computer.
Then, on May 13, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe abruptly extradited Murillo and 13 other former paramilitary leaders to the United States, claiming they were stalling the peace process and continuing to commit crimes from prison.
Murillo's lawyer, Paul Nalven, didn't say why his client had chosen to plead guilty, rather than fight the charges, but he noted that the sentence "could have been a lot worse" had he been convicted at trial. Other drug kingpins from Colombia have recently been sentenced to terms as long as 45 years.
The written plea agreement does not require Murillo to cooperate with federal authorities, but Nalven said arrangements would be made for special prosecutors from Colombia to try to interview him in the United States about his alleged human rights violations.
Ivan Cepeda, director of the Movement of Victims of State Crimes, an activist group in Colombia, said he hoped the plea bargain wouldn't end efforts to persuade Murillo to provide information about "forced disappearances" and other atrocities committed during the country's long civil war.
"I'm worried that these agreements are going to leave out any possibility of solving crimes against humanity," he said.
Murillo's sentencing was set for Dec. 18.
Hollander - June 30, 2008 11:23 AM (GMT)
FARC currently supplies more than 50 percent of the world's cocaine.http://blogs.chron.com/americas/archives/drug_trafficking/
Hollander - June 30, 2008 11:39 AM (GMT)
Police destroys 13 cocaine labs
May 7th, 2008 · No Comments
Thirteen cocaine processing laboratories allegedly belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been destroyed, Colombian police said Wednesday.
The labs, with a capacity to produce 16 tons of illicit drugs per month, were found in the central Meta province as well as the eastern Vichada province in a recent operation, the police said in a press release. “With the aim to combat criminal gangs and FARC’s 16th front, 13 labs used to produce cocaine were destroyed,” it said.
The police also confiscated 67 tons of chemical products, 141 kgs of cocaine chlorate, 30 kgs of base cocaine and 10,790 kgs of leafs.
Colombia’s armed groups, including paramilitaries, usually finance their illicit activities by trafficking weapons and narcotics, as well as blackmails and kidnappings, media reports said.
Hollander - July 2, 2008 11:04 PM (GMT)
Colombian military frees Ingrid Betancourt
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
BOGOTA: The French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt, three Americans and 11 other hostages were rescued from leftist guerrillas by Colombian troops on Wednesday, Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said.
Santos said all of the former captives were in reasonably good health after being held for years in secret jungle camps.
The rescue took place on Wednesday in the southern jungle province of Guaviare. Fifteen long-term kidnap victims were rescued in all, including Betancourt and the three Americans, Santos said.
The news was a coup for President Alvaro Uribe, an anti-guerrilla hard-liner who has used billions of dollars in U.S. aid to push the rebels onto the defensive, cut crime and spark economic growth.
"This was an unprecedented operation," Santos told reporters. "It will go down in history for its audaciousness and effectiveness."
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, has been holding about 40 high-profile hostages it has sought to exchange for jailed rebels.
Betancourt, a former presidential candidate with dual nationality, was kidnapped by the FARC in 2002. She was last seen in a rebel video at the end of last year looking gaunt and despondent.
"I am filled with happiness," Betancourt's sister, Astrid, told Colombian radio. "These have been long years of waiting."
The Americans, three Defense Department contract workers, were captured in 2003 after their light aircraft crashed in the jungles while on a counternarcotics operation.
In Paris an aide to President Nicolas Sarkozy, asked about the news, said the presidency had no comment to make for the moment and that it could not confirm the news.
France had made vigorous efforts to seek Betancourt's freedom.
"I'd like to thank everyone involved, including President Sarkozy," Herve Marro, spokesman for an Ingrid Betancourt support group in Paris, told French TV station I-Tele.
The FARC, waging Latin America's oldest insurgency, has demanded that Uribe pull back troops from an area the size of New York City to facilitate talks.
Uribe, popular at home for his tough stance against the rebels, refuses to accept that condition. But he has offered a smaller safe haven under international observation in an area where there are no armed forces or armed groups.
The FARC, once a 17,000-member force able to attack cities and kidnap almost at will, has been driven back into remote areas and now has about 9,000 combatants. The guerrillas have lost three major leaders this year.
Listed as a terrorist group by U.S. and European officials, the FARC has used Colombia's cocaine trade to fund its operations.
Hollander - July 4, 2008 11:58 AM (GMT)
McCain lauds Bogota's fight against drug trafficking
CARTAGENA, Colombia, (AFP)
US Republican presidential candidate John McCain lauded Bogota's fight against drug trafficking and endorsed the festering effort at a US-Colombia free trade pact during his first stop in a campaign swing through Colombia and Mexico.
"First I want to congratulate you, on your success on Plan Colombia to first reduce and then eliminate the flow of drugs from your country to mine," Senator McCain said Tuesday after a more than 90 minute meeting with Colombia President Alvaro Uribe in the coastal city of Cartagena.
McCain also complemented Uribe on his government's fight against the the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which has held scores if not hundreds of people hostage for years.
"Certainly it's my view that significant progress has been made against the FARC in the presidency of President Uribe," said McCain.
McCain, in a tough battle against Democrat Barack Obama to win the White House in the November 4 election, arrived in Colombia Tuesday afternoon, hoping to use the trip to score points over Obama in the arenas of trade and foreign policy.
He was accompanied by his wife Cindy McCain, independent Senator Joseph Lieberman and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
The Arizona senator's itinerary seemed designed to appeal to Hispanic television stations in the United States, serving the Latino voting bloc which is a growing force in key western battleground states.
"With this visit, McCain is recognizing Colombia as a top US ally," campaign spokesman Hessy Fernandez told reporters earlier.
McCain will meet officials and local business leaders on Wednesday, before traveling on to Mexico City for talks on Thursday with President Felipe Calderon.
After his talks with Uribe McCain also gave his backing to the US-Colombia free trade pact agreed by Uribe and US President George W. Bush but now stalled in the US Congress, where opponents cite Colombian government violence against trade unions.
"I just know that free trade is an important issue not just for Colombia but for the world and the US economy," McCain said.
Despite McCain's close support for Uribe, the Colombian government staked out an even-handed position on the US election ahead of his arrival.
"We have worked well with Democrats, well with Republicans, and expect to continue doing it," Foreign Minister Fernando Araujo told RCN network radio on Tuesday.
"Of course the doors will be open for candidate Barack Obama if he wants to visit us."
McCain's trip is the latest in a flurry of foreign forays by the presidential rivals, designed to burnish leadership credentials on the world stage, and to flesh out dueling foreign policy visions.
McCain traveled to the Middle East and Europe after clinching the Republican nomination earlier this year, and has just returned from Canada.
Obama is expected to visit Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Britain, France, Germany, Israel and Jordan in coming weeks.
On Monday, McCain savaged Obama over his opposition to the US-Colombia free trade agreement, and accused him of being unwilling to recognize the magnitude of the Uribe government's duel with FARC, the long-running leftist rebel movement.
"He doesn't support the Colombian free trade agreement. I think it would have very serious consequences if we rebuked our closest ally," McCain said.
"FARC is a long way from defeated, but the progress that has been made is remarkable. Senator Obama doesn't want to reward them, Senator Obama believes that Plan Colombia is wrong."
GangstersInc - September 30, 2008 05:51 PM (GMT)
Treasury freezes U.S. assets of FARC members
Treasury Department targets members of Colombia rebel group
The group, known as FARC, has been deemed a narco-terrorist organization
Action also prohibits Americans from doing business with FARC
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday froze the U.S. assets of eight members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which it has deemed a narco-terrorist organization.
The Treasury's action, termed a "designation," also prohibited Americans from conducting business with FARC.
"Today's designation exposes eight 'International Commission members' of the FARC," said Adam Szubin, director of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control. "Through their service to the FARC as international representatives and negotiators, these persons provide material support to a narco-terrorist organization."
The organization, comprised of Colombian leftist rebels, is best known as FARC, its Spanish acronym.
The eight in Tuesday's designation represent the FARC in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Panama, Mexico and Canada, the Treasury Department alleged.
"As representatives of the FARC and members of its International Commission, these individuals work abroad to obtain recruits, support and protection for the FARC's acts of terrorism," the department said in a written statement. "Some are also themselves violent criminals."
One, Jairo Alfonse Lesmes Bulla, was arrested in August for allegedly plotting the assassinations of some South American officials, Treasury said. Bulla represents FARC in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay, according to the department.
Another, Orlay Jurado Palomino, who represents FARC in Venezuela, is wanted in Colombia on charges of kidnapping, rebellion and terrorism, the department said. And Francisco Antonio Cadena Collazos, who represents FARC in Brazil, was arrested in August 2005 at the request of Colombia on charges of rebellion, the Treasury statement said.
A fourth, Nubia Calderon de Trujillo, was recently granted asylum by Nicaragua, the department said.
The other four are Ovidio Salinas Perez; Jorge Davalos Torres; Efrain Pablo Rejo Freire; and Liliana Lopez Palacios, according to the Treasury statement.