Ecuador said Tuesday that so far this year its national security agencies have found and taken control of 60 illegal facilities believed to belong to Colombian guerrillas, RCN Radio reports.
Ecuadorean Security Minister Miguel Carvajal said that the facilities included watch posts, abandoned homes and ranches, and coca processing laboratories thought to be used by Colombian guerrillas or drug traffickers.
“There are no irregular Colombian groups established in our territory, but we have intelligence on the infiltration of irregular groups across the border with Colombia. For that reason we have made repeated calls on the Colombian authorities to step up military check points in the area,” Carvajal explained.
Ecuador’s announcement contradicts previous denials by the Andean nation of any FARC presence within its borders. Colombia has repeatedly claimed that the FARC seek shelter within Ecuador.
Referring to allegations published in June by Ecuadorean news site El Universo that Colombia’s national security agency DAS wiretapped Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, the minister also said that the Ecuadorean Prosecutor General’s Office will work with its Colombian counterpart to investigate the claims.
The El Universo report is allegedly based on a testimony given by a Colombian DAS official who was in charge of the surveillance operation, named “Operation Salmon,” based in Quito.
“It has not become anything more than a journalistic report and investigation,” the security minister explained, “The inquiry has to run its normal course, because it is an important issue that deserves attention. But for now it is nothing but a journalistic statement.”
Ecuador broke diplomatic relations with Colombia after the Colombian army raided a FARC camp on Ecuadorean territory. FARC leader “Raul Reyes” and 26 others were killed in the raid, which Ecuador slammed as undermining its sovereignty. Colombia claims to have evidence that the FARC funded Correa’s 2006 election campaign, which the Correa administration vehemently denies.