Nestor Gregorio Vera Fernández, alias “Iván Mordisco,” is currently one of the most important FARC dissident commanders in Colombia. Until 2016, he served as commander of the 1st Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC). But in June of that year, he became the first commander to abandon the peace process between the rebel group and the Colombian government. His power currently lies in commanding the dissident 1st Front, made up of approximately 400 members and present across the departments of Guaviare, Vaupés and Vichada.
Iván Mordisco began his criminal activities upon joining the FARC in the late 1990s. He began as a foot soldier, but quickly specialized as a sniper and explosives expert within the Armando Ríos Front in San José del Guaviare.
His rise within the FARC began in 2008, when he temporarily served as commander of the 1st Front due to the capture of its leader Gerardo Aguilar, alias ‘Cesar.’ In 2009, Marco Fidel Suárez, alias ‘Kokoriko,’ took control of the front, and Iván Mordisco became the head of the 1st Front’s “public order operations” in Guaviare and Vaupés. Until 2012, he focused on forced recruitment and illicit crop protection in both departments before again becoming commander of the 1st Front.
In 2015, Iván Mordisco was briefly captured by the Army Special Anti-Drug Trafficking Brigade (Brigada Especial Contra el Narcotraficante) in a rural area of Miraflores municipality. However, the guerrilla commander was quickly released although details of this incident are lacking.
By 2016, it was clear that Iván Mordisco did not support the peace process. He solidified his stance by sending a letter to the FARC negotiating team in Cuba, making it clear that the 1st Front would not demobilize. Additionally, he invited all “guerrillas and militia members” who did not agree with the peace process to “continue the insurgent struggle.” These statements made him the first senior FARC leader to dissent.
Iván Mordisco is reputed as being a particularly violent leader, with disdain for civilian populations. With the blow to the dissident cause that was the death of Edgar Mesías Salgado, alias “Rodrigo Cadete,” Mordisco became a key player in Gentil Duarte’s plan to unite the FARC dissidents and has been tasked with running this operation in northern Colombia.
However, it is unknown whether Mordisco has directly replaced Cadete in this role as he is not a natural negotiator as Cadete was,
As commander of the 1st Front since 2012, Iván Mordisco has been behind crimes such as the extortion of tradesmen, farmers and other rural inhabitants, illegal mining, and ordered an increase in the planting, processing and trafficking of coca in Guaviare. At the end of that year, the Ombudsman’s Office reported that the organization, already in open dissent, forcibly recruited an unknown number of youths in rural Miraflores.
Iván Mordisco controls illicit crop cultivation, illegal mining and drug routes corridors for the transport of cocaine through Guaviare, Vaupés, Vichada and the south of Meta. The 1st Front has also opened drug trafficking routes through northern Amazonas, in the area of Puerto Córdoba and La Pedrera, where the Apaporis and Caqueta rivers provide a route to Brazil.
Iván Mordisco is believed to currently be based in the department of Guaviare, particularly around the municipalities of Calamar, Miraflores and San José del Guaviare. His most important area of control is the Barranquillita area of Miraflores.
He controls territory along the Guaviare river, close to the villages of En Charras, Puerto Alegre, Barranco Colorado, Puerto Alvira and Mocuare. This area, which marks the borders between Meta, Guaviare, Vichada and Guania, has historically been the 44th Front’s sphere of influence. But dissidents from the 1st and 16th Fronts have also acted there under the command of “Giovanny Chuspas.”
Allies and Enemies
Iván Mordisco’s closest alliances are with Miguel Botache Santillana, alias “Gentil Duarte,” who commands the 7th Front, and Géner García Molina, alias “Jhon 40,” who leads the 43rd Front dissidents. Apart from being Mordisco’s connection to the 7th Front, Duarte is leading an operation to reunite FARC dissidents across Colombia into a unified fighting structure, within which Mordisco is a key player.
It is currently unclear what relations Gentil Duarte and his allies maintain with another faction of ex-FARC Mafia, led by influential commanders Luciano Marín Arango, alias ‘Iván Márquez,’ Seuxis Pausías Hernández Solarte, alias ‘Jesús Santrich,’ and Hernán Darío Velásquez, alias ‘El Paisa,’ who declared their return to arms in August 2019.
Since abandoning the FARC peace process, Iván Mordisco has become one of the most important leaders of the ex-FARC Mafia in Colombia.
His strength lies in the 1st Front’s current manpower, control over international drug trafficking routes leading to Brazil and Venezuela and a network of alliances with dissidents in and outside of Colombia.