Demobilized guerrilla Juan Arturo Wilches, alias “Ricardo,” tells El Tiempo how easy it was, until security crack-downs in 2005, for the FARC to move cash in bags across the country.
“Mono Jojoy” had 36 men whose sole job was to each carry two bags full of pesos and dollars through the jungle, with up to COP1 billion ($560,000) arriving every two weeks.
“The money arrived in trucks or on the river and was used at the front, for secretary expenses and for Mono’s undercover agents,” recalls Ricardo, who was a member of Mono Jojoy’s inner security ring.
He added that guerrillas in the two outer security rings were not allowed to carry money. If they were caught with money it meant that they had been stealing from the leader.
From this money that was used to maintain the security of guerrillas, a part was used for the leader’s diet which consisted of fruits and vegetables and another part was used to get boots and American weapons, Ricardo recalls.
“He himself said it was ironic that he hated America but recognized the quality of their arms and war equipment,” the former guerrilla added.
Richardo eventually escaped with $3 million.