FARC commander “Oliver Solarte,” who was killed Monday by Colombian armed forces in Putumayo, was one of the group’s key drugs and arms smugglers and a link to Mexican drug cartels, President Juan Manuel Santos announced late Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters in Bogota, Santos stated that Solarte was a key contact with Mexican drug gangs, adding, “He was a very important part of the FARC … He handled all the drugs and arms trafficking of the FARC’s Southern Bloc. He was among the Central Command and only responded to the Secretariat.”
Solarte had been a member of the FARC for 20 years and had three arrest warrants against him in Colombia, for terrorism, extortion, kidnapping, aggravated murder, rebellion and aggravated theft. In addition, he had an extradition request against him from the U.S. for drug trafficking.
Santos described the death of Solarte, who had become leader of the 48th Front last year after the death in January 2010 of its previous leader, “Edgar Tovar,” as a “major blow” to the guerrilla group.
Head of the Colombian armed forces Admiral Edgar Cely added to reporters that the same operation that saw Solarte killed saw the seizure of communications equipment, six grenades and eleven phones.
Santos reiterated that should the FARC continue with their terrorist activity, they will fall, one after another, as Solarte did.