The Colombian army Thursday captured and arrested ELN leader Juan Fernando Granda, alias “El Mello” in a transport terminal in the central Colombian city of Medellin, following a tip-off from informants, and with the help of the Prosecutor General’s Office, reports Efe.
According to authorities, El Mello headed the ELN section in charge of “support and security” and was a commander of the Antioquia and Bolivar divisions of the guerrilla organization. He spent 21 years as a guerrilla with the ELN prior to his arrest.
El Mello reportedly headed the “Heroes de Anori” front of the ELN and trained guerrillas to attack army patrols and conduct kidnappings for ransom.
The guerrilla “is considered a high value target by the armed forces and there was an order for his arrest, on the charges of crimes against humanity and rebellion,” as well as extortion, kidnapping, drug trafficking and financing a militia network in Medellin.
The ELN guerrilla was arrested following a six month joint operation to capture him by the Prosecutor General’s Office and military intelligence.
El Mello was also allegedly involved in the hijacking of an Avianca flight in 1999, in which 35 passengers were taken as hostages.
A Colombian court Thursday sentenced Abel Nuñez Carrillo, an ELN guerrilla captured in 2007, to 40 years in prison for his involvement in the hijacking of the same Avianca flight.
The people who informed on El Mello will receive a reward of COP500 million.