Ecuador Zeros In on Powerful FARC Dissident as Others Lurk in Shadows

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Ecuadorean authorities have identified new players from the ex-FARC mafia network headed by alias “El Guacho.” But while authorities edge closer to Colombia’s most notorious new-generation criminal, the power behind him could be operating in the background.

A police intelligence reported obtained by El Telégrafo lists 20 names from the network of former fighters from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) that is commanded by Colombia’s most-wanted criminal, Walter Arizala Vernaza, alias “Guacho.”

Among them were explosives experts, logistics and financial specialists, commanders of militia networks and the man Ecuadorean authorities believe to be Guacho’s second-in-command, Carlos Landázuri, alias “Comandante Gringo.”

The self-proclaimed Olíver Sinisterra Front (Frente Olíver Sinisterra) operates in the southwestern Colombian state of Nariño and in Ecuador, controlling key cocaine production and distribution routes out of Colombia.

In recent months, the group has committed audacious acts of violence such as bombing a police station in Ecuador, along with kidnapping and murdering two Ecuadorean journalists and their driver.

InSight Crime Analysis

The exposure of the identities of key personnel in Guacho’s network is the latest sign that the authorities are closing in on the most notorious ex-FARC mafia leader in the country.

There are now 2,000 military personnel in Nariño as part of a joint Colombia-Ecuador security operation, and Guacho’s high-profile atrocities have made him their number one target. Within the last month, his brother and his alleged previous second-in-command have both been captured, his alleged cocaine shipments have been seized, and a bombing raid killed six members of his personal security team, according to official accounts.

However, while actions such as the murder of the Ecuadorean journalists have made Guacho a famous ex-FARC mafia leader in Colombia, he is not the most powerful. Outside of the southwest, the dissident networks managed by Iván Mordisco, Gentil Duarte and Jhon 40 eclipse the reach and capacity of Guacho.

SEE ALSO: Profile of 1st Front Dissidence

It is even unlikely that Guacho is the real power in the southwest. Prior to the formation of ex-FARC mafia groups, Guacho was allegedly a favored underling of Gustavo González Sánchez, alias “Rambo,” head of the FARC’s Daniel Aldana Mobile Column and a veteran of not only the conflict but also the transnational drug trade.

Rambo’s current whereabouts are unknown, but in contrast to the young and inexperienced Guacho, he has the contacts and expertise necessary to pull the strings of the drug trade in Colombia’s principal cocaine dispatch point.

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