FARC Guerrillas Charged With Conspiracy to Support Foreign Terrorists
By: Jim Kouri, CPP
The US Department of Justice on Friday reported the arrival from Panama of Alexis Freddy Mosquera-Renteria, a/k/a “Ronald,” a/k/a “Ronal,” Yarlei Banol-Ramos, a/k/a “Diana,” and Jorge Abel Ibarguen-Palacio, a/k/a “Turbo,” who are charged with conspiring to provide material support to Colombia’s main left-wing terrorist group, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejercito del Pueblo (the FARC).
Mosquera-Renteria, Banol-Ramos, and Ibarguan-Palacio were originally captured in coastal waters off of the Republic of Panama on February 22, 2008, after a shootout with the Panamanian National Police, and were later transferred to U.S. custody to face the terrorism charges.
The FARC, whose Spanish name means Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – Army of the People, has been designated by the Department of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and is dedicated to the violent overthrow of Colombia’s democratically elected government.
It is a highly structured criminal organization, styled as a military group with “blocs,” “fronts,” and “militias,” as well as governing bodies known as the “Secretariat” and the “Estado Mayor.” The 57th Front of the FARC is headquartered in the Choco Department of Colombia, which borders Panama.
The 57th Front of the FARC is involved in cocaine trafficking for the FARC and is also involved in obtaining supplies such as weapons, ammunition, uniforms, and other items both for the Front itself, as well as other fronts of the FARC. The 57th Front also funds itself through kidnapping for ransom, including the kidnapping of foreign tourists traveling through areas controlled by the Front. Mosquera-Renteria, Banol-Ramos, and Jorge Abel Ibarguen-Palacio, the defendants, are FARC guerrillas and members of the 57th Front.
The defendants were arrested while manning a 57th Front patrol boat in waters off the coast of Jaque, Panama, after an armed confrontation with a Panamanian National Police maritime patrol. On the morning of Feb. 22, 2008, a Panamanian National Police patrol boat approached the defendants’ boat, believing it was in need of assistance. Mosquera-Renteria, who was the commander of the FARC boat, Banol-Ramos, Ibarguen-Palacio, and three crewmen, were on deck dressed in civilian clothing. While the Panamanian police boat was towing the defendants’ boat to shore, Banol-Ramos pointed a rifle at the police officers, while four of the other FARC members also pointed weapons at the police. Banol-Ramos then jumped on to the police boat, and Mosquera-Renteria, Banol-Ramos, Ibarguen-Palacio and their co-conspirators disarmed the police and held them captive.
Other Panamanian police boats arrived to render assistance. After an exchange of gunfire, in which at least one Panamanian officer was wounded, Mosquera-Renteria, Banol-Ramos, Ibarguen-Palacio and their co-conspirators were arrested and taken into custody by the Panamanian police.
A search of the defendants’ boat by Panamanian officers yielded explosives and detonators, weapons –including four fully loaded AK-47 automatic rifles, one Galil rifle, and machetes — nine empty AK-47 magazines and five empty Galil magazines, hundreds of rounds of live ammunition, military backpacks, communication equipment, and camouflage FARC uniforms with armbands, at least one bearing a sleeve patch marked, “Mario Velez, Compania Ever Ortega,” which is known to be a company of the 57th Front.
In addition, ion scans conducted on various sections of the defendants’ boat tested positive for the presence of cocaine.
Following the arrests of the defendants by Panamanian authorities, on Feb. 27, 2009, a communique was issued in the name of the head of the FARC’s 57th Front, confirming that the defendants were members of the FARC and threatening that the FARC would take military action against the Government of Panama if those arrested were not released.
DEA Special Agent-In-Charge John P. Gilbride stated: “These arrests mark another crack in the terrorism operations of the FARC and signal once again the commitment of international law enforcement to bring the FARC’s pursuit of profit from peddling poison to an abrupt end.”
The New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force is comprised of agents and officers of the DEA, the New York City Police Department, the United States Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Department of Homeland Security United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, and the New York State Police.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s International Narcotics Trafficking Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rebecca M. Ricigliano and Jeffrey A. Brown are in charge of the prosecution.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he’s the former blog editor for the House Conservatives Fund’s weblog. Recently, the editors at Examiner.com appointed him as their Law Enforcement Examiner. Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.
He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for NewswithViews.com and PHXnews.com. He’s also a columnist for AmericanDailyReview.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 300 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. If you wish to receive Kouri’s emailed law enforcement and intelligence reports, write to him at COPmagazine@aol.com. Simply write “Free Subscription” on the subject line.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.