Planning for the operation began last Friday at a military base in Larandia, Caqueta. Colombian Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera said the military high command planning the operation were in contact with the Omega Task Force in La Macarena, Meta. They received intelligence that Mono Jojoy was in the mountainous area in the town of La Julia, 26 kilometers southwest of the town of Uribe. At the time the area was completely controlled by guerrillas.
Monday night, before he left for the United Nations meeting in New York, President Juan Manuel Santos met with Rivera and the team planning the operation. He gave the order for the “unprecedented” operation, utilizing forces from the army, navy, air force and national police.
Movements into the area began Tuesday, but troops didn’t arrive at the FARC base until Wednesday, where operations began at 5AM.
“We arrived at the mother of all FARC camps, a camp of over 300 meters with a concrete bunker in which this terrorist [Mono Jojoy] took refuge,” Rivera said. He added the area was equipped with tunnels and escape routes.
The operation used 30 aircrafts and around 27 helicopters, which resulted in the dropping of 50 precision bombs on the FARC camp.
In addition to the death of Mono Jojoy and Romaña, more than 20 other guerrillas were killed. Six soldiers were wounded.
Mono Jojoy, second in command of the FARC guerrilla group, has been long sought by Colombian authorities. The conviction for the alleged crimes he committed would have resulted in almost 200 years in prison. Charges against him included of murder, terrorism, conspiracy, forced disappearances, kidnapping, theft, extortion, arms trafficking, and many more.
In total, he was being investigated for 105 separate crimes. There were also three warrants out for his arrest and extradition to the United States for kidnapping three Americans that were freed in Operation Checkmate.
One of the best known cases of kidnapping attributed to Mono Jojoy is that of Emmanuel, son of Clara Rojas. Rojas was Ingrid Betancourt’s presidential running mate and the two were held together as FARC hostages. Emmanuel was born in captivity but then given to a peasant family in the area.
Rojas was freed by the FARC in January 2008, while Betancourt was rescued in Operation Checkmate in July 2008.