Paraguay’s security forces have killed as many as five members of a dissident faction of the EPP guerrilla group in three days, possibly including one of its leaders, dealing a huge blow to the fledgling rebel organization.
On September 19, Paraguay’s Joint Task Force (FTC) killed three alleged members of the Armed Peasant Association (ACA) rebel group — a breakaway faction of the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP) — and seriously injured two more during an operation aimed at finding kidnapping victim Arlan Fick, reported La Nacion.
FTC commander Coronel Ramon Benitez told Paraguayan media that one of those killed was a 15-year-old boy, and according to Ultima Hora another victim had joined the rebel group only a few days before the operation.
FTC members reportedly remained in the area of Arroyito in Concepcion province over the weekend and conducted three additional raids on September 21, killing one more alleged ACA member. According to Ultima Hora, ACA leader Albino Jara Larrea is believed to have died as well on Sunday after sustaining serious injuries during the September 19 battle.
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The FTC operations represent a serious blow to the ACA, which is only believed to number around 13 fighters. This means the rebel group lost at least a third of its members in the span of three days, including one of the group’s key fighters — Marcos Ojeda — and possibly one of its leaders, Jara.
As InSight Crime revealed, the ACA formed after an EPP column led by Albino Jara, and his brother Alfredo, split off from the main organization.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of the EPP
Luis Rojas, the head of the country’s anti-drug agency (SENAD) told InSight Crime during a recent trip to Paraguay that the ACA funds itself by imposing a “tax” on drug trafficking and cattle rustling in its territory and appears to have modeled itself after the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
There are also indications the ACA may have ties to the Brazilian criminal organization First Catarinense Group (PGC). One of the ACA’s key members, Ruben Dario Lopez Fernandez — whose alias “Raul Reyes” is in homage to a slain FARC commander — is believed to have befriended PGC leader Osmar de Souza Junior while the two were imprisoned in the Paraguayan city of Concepcion.