The FARC has announced that captured journalist Romeo Langlois, who is reportedly being held by one of the group’s biggest drug trafficking fronts, will be released soon.
The Tweet, sent on Sunday from the account @FARC_EP, read, “The prisoner of war: French journalist Romeo Langlois, will be released soon, safe and sound.” The message came hours after a video showed a commander from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC’s) 15th Front reading a communique confirming that Langlois had been taken prisoner by the guerrillas during a seven-hour battle with Colombian forces on April 28. The video was filmed by journalists Karl Penhaul and Carlos Villalon.
Langlois’ release will likely be organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In order to facilitate this, military operations in the region where Langlois is thought to be being held, in the north of Caqueta province, have been temporarily suspended, General Javier Rey Navas of the Colombian Army told RCN Radio. No immediate timeframe for the journalist’s release has been given, however.
InSight Crime Analysis
Langlois is being held by the 15th Front of the FARC, which El Tiempo reports is one of the biggest drug trafficking fronts within the rebel organization, shipping an estimated 30 tons of cocaine a year. Due to the size of its trafficking operations, which include coca plantations and coca paste laboratories spread throughout the south of the country, as well as its Caqueta stronghold, the front has been able to position itself as a supplier to the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel, reports El Tiempo.
The Sinaloa Cartel are also reportedly work with the 48th Front; in April last year, Colombian police arrested an alleged intermediary between the front, the Mexican cartel, and the Rastrojos drug gang. The 15th Front are known to work closely with the 48th, who base their operations in Putumayo province, which borders Caqueta.
Debate has raged over whether Langlois should be considered a prisoner of war. The FARC claim this is justified as he was taken in the midst of a battle between the guerrillas and armed forces while, they say, wearing military uniform. As InSight Crime has noted, his capture highlights the complications around the role of journalists reporting from modern conflict zones, particularly those involving organized criminal groups, where the positions of combatants and non-combatants are often ill-defined.