A Colombian informant who allegedly played a key role in the assassination of one of the country’s most notorious rebel leaders has claimed the United States is refusing to pay him his reward.
The key to locating and killing “Mono Jojoy”, notorious commander of the Eastern Bloc of the FARC, was a tracking device hidden in a pair of orthopedic boots he had delivered to Jojoy, the disgruntled informant told weekly Semana in December.
The Colombian government has paid the informant the promised reward for the “great job he did for [his] country” in the operation to kill Jojoy, he told the magazine. But the informant, known by the pseudonym of “Juan,” says the U.S. has failed to pay a $5 million reward promised on their part.
“Operation Sodom,” a 2010 air strike in central Colombia resulted in the deaths of 20 members of the country’s longest-standing guerrilla group, FARC, including its Eastern Bloc commander, Victor Julio Suarez, alias “Mono Jojoy”. According to organized crime website Insight Crime, Mono Jojoy “was best known for pushing the guerrillas to become more involved in mass civilian kidnappings and aggressive military operations.”
Juan’s involvement in the mission began when a police intelligence operation aimed at killing Mono Jojoy noticed the informant had been selling goods to buyers for the FARC’s Eastern Bloc. Juan told Semana that he had been selling goods around the different municipalities in the Meta department for “several years.”
“To sell things in many of these areas, you had to have permission from the guerrillas because they were the ones in charge. Eventually…I started to sell…stuff to them too.”
The police approached Juan on the street in Bogota one day and revealed they knew of his dealings with the FARC and wanted his help. “I was a businessman,” said Juan. “I was told there was a reward.”
An important product the trader-turned-informant supplied to the FARC leader was his diabetes medication. It was the diabetes that affected Mono Jojoy’s circulation and led him to order a pair of orthopedic boots. The intelligence services, on leaning of the order, passed to Juan a pair of boots to sell to Mono Jojoy.
The informant says he only learned the role he had played in the operation when it was announced on the radio that Mono Jojoy had been killed in a bombardment, having been located by a tracking chip embedded in his boots.
“That worried me a lot, I got scared and went to Bogota,” recalled Juan. There the Colombian police paid him his reward, which eventually amounted to $2.7 million, and helped him to establish a new life in Bogota.
Juan says he only received $100,000 from the CIA and $111,300 from the DEA and has been told that this is all he can expect, but says that the U.S. State Department had offered $5 million for information leading to Mono Jojoy’s capture or death. He has engaged lawyers to try to get the money he says he deserves.
But there is another side to the story. In response to a letter, Juan’s lawyer received the following message from James A. Faulkner, legal attaché to the U.S. embassy in Bogota:
“‘Juan’ was a known logistics agent of a cruel terrorist organization, whom the DEA and CNP [Colombian National Police] captured in an operation. Only when he had his back against the wall, at risk of facing terrorism charges and a long sentence behind bars, did he agree to cooperate with the United States. There is no doubt that his cooperation was effective and he was compensated with money and freedom. But we do not think anyone can claim that he was treated unfairly.”
Juan, however, denies having been captured and said he never faced any terrorism charge. He will continue to pursue the full $5 million reward.
The U.S Embassy in Bogota says its position is unchanged and has declined to comment further on the case.