According to the director of Colombia’s National Police, General Oscar Naranjo, the success of recent military operations against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have forced the rebels to go back to the old system of using couriers as their only means of communications.Recapping his first year as director of the 115,000-strong police force, General Naranjo told El Nuevo Herald that Colombia’s oldest and best armed leftist guerrillas are at a turning point.”Their communications are very much dislocated,” he said.Naranjo said that the war against drug-trafficking is working and that the state has succeeded in controlling the surging of groups that could destabilize the Colombian government.There have been several arrests of large cartel leaders that monopolized drug production and power Colombia where they operated, Naranjo said.”There are no longer monopolies that claim authority. We are facing micro-groups, not cartels, and they don’t represent a threat to institutional stability,” he said.He noted that only four of the United States and Colombia’s 26 most-wanted drug traffickers remain at large and that cocaine seizures are at record numbers — 36 tons in 2007.The general also noted his direct involvement in the capture and subsequent extradition of 375 out of the 700 Colombian citizens sent to the United States to stand federal charges for drug trafficking and money laundering during the last six years.Among them were the two Mejía Múnera brothers, Miguel and Víctor, known as Los Mellizos or ”The Twins.” One of them was killed and the other arrested.”They were the most violent and aggressive capos, with the greatest capacity for trafficking in Colombia,” Naranjo said.Despite the destruction of thousands of hectares of coca plantations (196,000 in the last 18 months), the production of cocaine does not seem to have diminished, he said.”How to finish off the cultivation is the crux of the entire matter,” said Naranjo. “Despite efforts, there is no notable diminishing, a vertical drop that should occur, which means that the reserve is still very high.”According to the general, the FARC have lost their own production capacity and have been forced to rely on protection taxes to the groups that still produce cocaine — not as profitable a business as exporting drugs themselves.Another sign of the guerrilla’s weakening are the numbers of desertions by combatants that had been with the FARC anywhere from five to 12 years, said Naranjo.”It is their qualified combatants that are demobilizing,” he said. ”What I’m seeing for the first time in the last 30 years is that the FARC are no longer growing — to the contrary, ” they are shrinking.Naranjo was appointed by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to reveal the documents found in computers seized from guerrilla leader Raúl Reyes, killed on a March 1 attack by Colombian forces in a FARC jungle camp in neighboring Ecuador.Regarding this incident, which nearly escalated into a regional conflict with Venezuela and Ecuador, the general was adamant that no other country besides Colombia participated in the border-crossing operation.”The (Defense) Minister and the Commander General have been very clear in this: The intelligence was ours and I can guarantee that it was [an operation] based on human sources, not satellites. It was a patient work of recruiting,” he said. Ecuador has charged that the United States collaborated with the Colombian forces.
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