Three U.S. military contractors have been awarded $318 million by a Tampa Bay judge after being held in FARC captivity between 2003 and 2008.
The money will come from 21 different U.S. bank accounts confiscated from Colombian drug traffickers. The U.S. judge determined that many of the accounts had been linked to the FARC.
Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell and Thomas Howes, employees of defense technology company Northrop Grumman, were in Colombia on a drug surveillance mission when their single-engine plane crashed in the FARC controlled Amazon region in the southern department of Caqueta on February 13, 2003.
An American pilot and a Colombian intelligence officer in the plane were shot by FARC rebels before the three contractors were led deeper into the jungle, where they remained until a Colombian military operation rescued the trio along with former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and 11 other security personnel.
The three were awarded the U.S. Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom and penned a book detailing their harrowing experience entitled “Out of Captivity” in 2009.