Ecuador’s interior minister said Wednesday that more than 80 alleged members and associates of a FARC dissident group have been arrested in both Ecuador and Colombia.
Interior Minister Mauro Toscanini made the announcement on the day that the bodies of three journalists arrived in Ecuador months after they were killed in southern Colombia by the so-called “Oliver Sinisterra Front.”
The FARC dissidents are led by “Guacho,” an Ecuadoran former member of the Colombian group.
“I know from our police that there have been 52 arrests and 30 in Colombia for being tied to Guacho’s group,” Toscanini told press.
According to the Ecuadorean minister, Colombian security forces “are close to locating him.”
The group formed by the Ecuadorean FARC dissident during the peace process with what used to be the country’s largest rebel group has been wreaking havoc in the border area.
Not only have they been attacking security forces, journalists and possibly energy infrastructure, the group has been terrorizing locals in order to maintain control over local drug routes.
Colombian security forces estimate that Guacho’s group has approximately 500 members and is only active in the Colombian border town of Tumaco and the neighboring Esmeraldas province in Ecuador.
With the help of Mexican drug trafficking organizations, Guacho has turned the jungle border region into one of the most important routes for trafficking Colombian cocaine to Central America and the United States.
Colombia’s vice-president Oscar Naranjo in January sent 2,000 soldiers to Tumaco in an effort to regain control over the area, but without much result, according to locals.
Not only is Tumaco one of the poorest and most neglected regions of Colombia, it is also the primary coca growing region of the South American country.