Nestor Gregorio Vera Fernández, alias “Iván Mordisco,” is currently one of southern Colombia’s principal criminals. Until 2016, he served as commander of the FARC’s 1st Front — also known as “Armando Ríos” — but in June of that year, he became the first commander to dissent from the peace process between the rebel group and the Colombian government. His power currently lies in commanding the dissidents from the 1st Front, made up of approximately 400 members and with a presence in the departments of Guaviare, Vaupés and Vichada.
Iván Mordisco began his criminal activities 20 years ago, when he joined the FARC guerrilla group. 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.
The rise of Iván Mordisco began in 2008, when he temporarily served as commander of the 1st Front due to the capture of Gerardo Aguilar, alias “Cesar,” who was the commander at the time. 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 company in Guaviare and Vaupés. Between then and 2012, he focused on forced recruitment and illicit crop protection in both departments. By the end of 2012, he had risen again to commander of the 1st Front.
From then until mid-2016 he followed the orders given by the FARC Secretariat, although his criticism of the peace talks in Havana, Cuba, increased over time. Meanwhile, in 2015, Iván Mordisco was involved in a confusing event, when members of the Army Special Anti-Drug Trafficking Brigade (Brigada Especial Contra el Narcotraficante) appeared to have captured him in a rural area of the Miraflores municipality. However, the guerrilla commander was quickly released amid a lack of clear details.
In 2016, it was an open secret that Iván Mordisco did not support the peace process. He solidified his stance on the issue in the middle of that year when he sent a letter to the FARC Secretariat in Cuba in which he went public with his dissatisfaction with the process and declared that the 1st Front would not demobilize. He also stated that the front would neither collect nor give up their weapons, and he invited all the “guerrillas and militia members” who did not agree with the peace process to “join forces” and “continue the insurgent struggle.” These statements made him not only the first dissident commander, but also one of the most important dissidents in the south of Colombia.
Iván Mordisco is known to be one of the most violent leaders of the FARC dissidents, with a predatory attitude agaisnt the civilian population. 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.
Sin embargo, no es posible afirmar que Mordisco este llamado a ser el remplazo de Cadete como articulador principal dado que se le reconoce con una personalidad difícil y conflictiva, y que no tiene la misma aceptación, posibilidad de negociación o capacidad de convocatoria ideológica que tenía Cadete.
As commander of the 1st Front, Iván Mordisco led the unit’s attacks beginning in 2012.
In 2016, he backed the commission of crimes such as the extortion of merchants, farmers and other rural inhabitants, illegal mining, and pressure to increase the planting, processing and trafficking of coca in Guaviare. Additionally, 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.
By 2017, the dissident commander ordered uprisings against law enforcement, attacks with explosive devices, kidnappings and the murders of several civilians in Guaviare.
Ivan Mordisco controls illicit crop cultivation, illegal mining and international corridors for the transport of cocaine through Guaviare, Vaupés, Vichada and the south of Meta. THe 1st Front is also opening new drug trafficking routes through the north of the department of Amazonas, in the area of Puerto Córdoba y La Pedrera, where the Apaporis and Caqueta rivers meet, providing a solid gateway to Brazil.
Iván Mordisco currently moves throughout the department of Guaviare, particularly in the municipalities of Calamar, Miraflores and San José del Guaviare. His most important area of control is the Barranquillita area of Miraflores.
In this department, 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 within the 44th Front’s sphere of influence. But it has also been used by members of the dissident 1st Front to coordinate actions with dissidents from the 16th Front under the command of “Giovanny Chuspas.”
Allies and Enemies
The most important criminal alliances established Iván Mordisco 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 a complex operation to re-unite all FARC dissidents across Colombia into a unified fighting structure, within which Mordisco is a key player.
Likewise, as a former high-ranking guerrilla fighter among FARC dissenters, Iván Mordisco could potentially have alliances with nine dissident fronts, a mobile column and seven urban militias. In Guaviare, there have also been reports of an alliance between the Urabeños criminal organization and his dissident group in order to distribute extorted money and avoid confrontations.
The regularity with which Ivan Mordisco has gained speed since he declared himself unwilling to take part in the FARC peace process has made him one of the most powerful members of the ex-FARC Mafia in Colombia.
His strength lies in his dissident group’s progressive growth in manpower, control over international drug trafficking routes with Brazil and Venezuela and a network of alliances with dissidents in and outside of Colombia.