“Guacho” and one of his lieutenants were killed in a “heroic” police operation near Tumaco, Nariño, the neglected port town in southwest Colombia where the former FARC guerrilla operated, President Ivan Duque said Friday.
Defense Minister Guillermo Botero said that in a joint operation of the military, the National Police and the prosecution, “special forces reached the place where Guacho was hiding and a firefight broke out that left him and one of his right hand men dead.”
The rogue guerrilla chief led the Oliver Sinistierra Front (FOS), one of the largest and most violent dissident groups that rejects the ongoing peace process with the FARC and is held responsible for killing two Ecuadorean journalists and their driver earlier this year.
The president traveled to Tumaco on Saturday to thank the commanders who were responsible for the operation in a religion and patriotism-laden speech.
God knows how to brings things, and he brought them on Christmas Eve. In December 200 years ago, the heroes General [Simon] Bolivar and General [Francisco de Paula] Santander, began the last phase of the heroic deed of liberation. I want to tell you that you are an army just as glorious, just as victorious as that of 200 years ago, and that now we have to build the country’s freedom and liberate it from fear, terrorism, drug trafficking and organized armed groups.
President Ivan Duque
The alleged death of Guacho came months after Duque and his Ecuadorean counterpart Lenin Moreno sent thousands of troops to the neglected area to capture or kill the rogue rebel leader who abandoned the peace process in late 2016.
Since then, the FOS, other FARC dissident groups and groups formed by dissident AUC groups have been violently vying for control over the border region and the cocaine trade that dominates the neglected region’s economy.
Guacho, who was born as Walter Arizala in a village on the Ecuadorean side of the border, used his knowledge of the region and his group’s ability to cross the border to traffic cocaine and, until his death, evade authorities on both sides.