Authorities in Colombia have seized properties linked to the FARC guerrilla group whose estimated value adds to evidence that the now-demobilized rebels under-reported their assets, contravening part of a 2016 peace deal meant to provide reparations for victims.
Colombia’s Attorney General’s Office announced in a February 19 press release that it had arrested several individuals in connection with an alleged scheme to launder hundreds of millions of dollars over two decades through a chain of small supermarkets tied to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC).
Authorities seized assets valued at more than 650 billion pesos (around $234 million), including five companies, 60 supermarkets, 70 bank accounts, numerous residential and commercial properties and more than two dozen vehicles, according to the press release.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of Money Laundering
A portion of the recently seized assets was allegedly owned by the Chaux González family, who acted as frontmen for Tomás Molina Caracas, alias “Negro Acacio,” the principal fundraiser for the FARC’s Eastern Bloc until his death in 2007.
The 15 billion pesos (around $5.4 million) worth of assets seized from the Chaux González family were obtained with money delivered to the family by Negro Acacio, according to the press release. The assets were allegedly the fruit of drug trafficking activities carried out by family patriarch José Hugo Chaux Cuéllar and the former guerrilla.
InSight Crime Analysis
The large-scale seizure of FARC-linked assets is likely to reinforce the perception that the rebel group is not fully committed to the terms of the peace agreement, particularly when it comes to using its assets to provide reparations for victims.
As part of the peace deal, the FARC listed the total value of its assets at $332 million. However, as InSight Crime has reported, there is a strong likelihood that dissident elements of the guerrillas did not declare the entirety of their assets.
The seizure — in a single operation — of assets worth an estimated 70 percent of the FARC’s declared wealth adds to strong evidence that the group’s true wealth is far greater than what it has claimed.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of FARC Peace
The mounting speculation that the FARC is not complying with the terms of the peace agreement could also have ramifications in presidential elections scheduled for May.
Opponents of the FARC peace deal have long claimed that the rebel group can’t be trusted to hold up its end of the agreement. The issue of undeclared FARC assets could give a boost to critics of the deal, in addition to undermining the already-struggling political vehicle of the demobilized rebels, the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común – FARC).