By Dialogo September 18, 2009 Twenty-eight suspected members of a paramilitary organization linked to drug trafficking to the United States and Europe were arrested, Colombian authorities said. The arrests were made by Colombian police and prosecutors in coordination with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. One of the most important arrests was made in the Caribbean coastal city of Barranquilla, where Donaldo Verbel Garcia – alias “El Gato” (The Cat), the head of the Los Paisas militia on the northern Colombian coast and the person in charge of coordinating drug shipments abroad – was taken into custody. Police said that El Gato shipped drugs using two methods: across the Caribbean Sea in relatively large boats and with human carriers who first go to Venezuela and from there travel to Central America, the United States and Europe. Authorities also discovered an ingenious strategy the band used to transport drugs on the high seas consisting of securing cargoes of some 500 kilos below the water’s surface attached to a buoy. During the course of the investigation, police also determined that the band has links with other groups like that headed by Daniel Barrera, one of Colombia’s most-wanted drug kingpins. The AUC federation of right-wing militias, which was deeply involved in the drug trade, dissolved in mid-2006 after more than 31,000 paramilitaries laid down their arms in keeping with the peace process agreed to with the government of President Alvaro Uribe. Afterwards, however, other paramilitary bands began cropping up, including Los Paisas, which – in many cases – have developed links with drug trafficking.
By Dialogo November 25, 2009 The Colombian government has authorized the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Catholic Church to make “the necessary contacts” with leftist rebels for the release of two soldiers the guerrillas said they are prepared to free unilaterally. That news coincided with rumors that one of the prisoners due to be released, army Cpl. Pablo Emilio Moncayo, had managed to escape from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. “The government will provide the necessary guarantees and reiterates its readiness and willingness for this process to be completed as soon as possible,” President Alvaro Uribe’s administration said in a statement announcing the authorizations. FARC commanders said months ago that they were willing to unilaterally free Moncayo and Pvt. Josue Daniel Calvo and deliver the body of police Maj. Julian Ernesto Guevara, who died while in captivity. Until last week, Uribe had been insisting that the rebels hand over all 25 of the soldiers and police they are holding, but the FARC wants to trade 23 of those captives for some 500 jailed guerrillas, a few of whom have been extradited to the United States. The Colombian government has agreed to the FARC’s request that opposition Sen. Piedad Cordoba – instrumental in earlier prisoner releases – join Red Cross and church representatives on the mission to receive the soldiers. Cpl. Moncayo was captured on Dec. 21, 1997, in a rebel attack on the southern town of Cerro Patascoy and is one of the two soldiers who have spent the most time in captivity. His father, teacher Gustavo Moncayo, said Tuesday that a person he declined to identify had told him authorities had indications his son escaped from the insurgents. “Last night I received a call that a guerrilla communication was possibly intercepted in which they say Pablo Emilio escaped,” the elder Moncayo told Caracol Radio. Gustavo Moncayo has become known as the “peace walker” for trekking long distances on foot while wearing chains around his neck to call attention to the plight of his son and the other hostages. Uribe and the FARC accuse each other of having no real interest in negotiations and the president has instead favored rescue operations to free the hostages. One such mission last year, in which Colombian troops disguised as Red Cross workers freed former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, three U.S. military contractors and 11 others, was a resounding success. Yet hostage families say the risks are too great, pointing to the deaths of 11 lawmakers during a clash several years ago between the rebels and army soldiers.
By Dialogo July 29, 2011 The leader of the Colombian criminal gang with the most fighters and one of those most involved in drug-trafficking activities was murdered by his bodyguards in the country’s northwest, the police announced, an event that could lead to the group’s reorganization and spark violence. Emerging criminal gangs are considered the new threat to the security of the country, which has fought drug traffickers and leftist guerillas for decades. Ángel de Jesús Pacheco, alias “Sebastián,” the leader of “Los Rastrojos” [“The Stubble”], died in a rural area of the municipality of Caucacia, in the department of Antioquia. His death could lead to a reorganization of that criminal group, which has around 2,000 members, according to security sources. The police commander in Antioquia, Col. José Gerardo Acevedo, said that the criminal was shot and killed by men he trusted, who then notified the authorities of the crime and the exact location of the corpse. The criminal gangs are made up of former extreme-right-wing paramilitaries who demobilized amid controversial peace negotiations with the government, but who returned to living outside the law, forming private armies in the service of drug traffickers. The intensity of the conflict, as well as the massacres, murders, kidnappings, and attacks on the country’s economic infrastructure, declined after 2002 due to a military offensive launched by former president Álvaro Uribe with support from the United States. Nevertheless, the guerrillas, who withdrew to mountainous and jungle areas, still maintain the capacity to carry out high-impact attacks, even in large urban centers, despite the death of important leaders and desertions by fighters.
After finishing ahead of their peers from Argentina, Brazil, and the United States in five days of arduous competition, the Chilean Army team won the 12th International Military Biathlon Championship, held at the Mountain School (Escuela de Montaña) in the Portillo district. The decisive event was the “mass start,” in which the 25 men and 9 women in the competition began a 15-kilometer cross-country skiing race for men and a 12.5-kilometer race for women at 9:30 a.m., carrying a 22-mm biathlon rifle on their shoulders. The athletes made four stops at a shooting range to fire five shots each time, at targets located at a distance of 50 meters, prone and standing. For each missed shot, they had to ski a penalty loop of 150 meters. At the end of the race, the national team was declared the international champion with 130 points, followed by Argentina with 105 points. Brazil came in third with 45 points. By Dialogo August 22, 2011
By Dialogo October 31, 2011 The Brazilian police arrested 36 people involved in international drug trafficking on October 27. They had been buying cocaine in Bolivia and marihuana in Paraguay, and the drugs were to be shipped to Europe, according to a statement issued by the Federal Police. “The group was made up of Brazilian, South American and European citizens who brought to Brazil cocaine from Bolivia, and marihuana from Paraguay. The drugs were sent to Europe and Africa”, said the police. During the operation, 80,000 reals were confiscated, (about US$46,800), along with 10 high-end vehicles, and weapons. Thanks to ‘Operation Seed’, which started a year ago, about 70 people had already been arrested under drug trafficking charges, “one of which is suspected of belonging to the Calabrian mafia in Italy”, specified the statement. During this period, the police seized 9,540 pounds of cocaine and 11,490 pounds of marihuana, as well as more than one million reals (about US$585,500), 48 vehicles and an airplane. According to the authorities, the parties involved are facing up to 20 years of prison time.
By Dialogo June 11, 2012 In a joint operation involving Colombia’s National Army, Navy, and Air Force, the camp structure of FARC Front 37 was successfully located in the municipality of Nechí, in the department of Antioquia. This severe blow to the logistical and financial infrastructure of the “Caribbean Bloc” took place as a consequence of the accurate compilation of intelligence obtained by the National Navy, the precision of the combat and reconnaissance aircraft of the Air Force, and the subsequent operations of the South American country’s National Army. The Technical Investigative Corps of the Public Prosecutor’s Office fully identified Luis Enrique Benítez Cañola, alias “Silvio” or “el Francés” [the Frenchman], the leader of Front 37, and Hernando Tique Rodríguez, alias “Ulises,” the second-ranking leader of Front 35, both of whom died in combat during the operation. As of June 8, the deaths in combat of eight individuals had been confirmed, along with three wounded and the seizure of nine rifles, one pistol, camping equipment, communications, and one ton of provisions. The wounded individuals had been engaging in extortion targeting miners and were part of the security for the leader, alias “Silvio.” The operation, which was conducted early in the morning on June 6, once again neutralized the execution of the “Plan to Retake the Montes de María,” ordered by alias “Iván Márquez” when the redoubts of Fronts 35 and 37 were established in southern Bolívar to restore their finances, carry out forced recruitment, and restore their armed capabilities. With the operations maintained by government forces to prevent the execution of said plan, the leaders of these fronts have been neutralized one by one. WHO HE WAS: “Silvio” was engaged in criminal activity in this narco-terrorist organization for 34 years. He dedicated himself to obtaining resources to support the Caribbean Bloc and its leaders, through extortion targeting miners, retailers, and landholders in the region, the collection of a tax (gramaje) on coca growers, and kidnapping for ransom. He participated in the kidnapping of former minister Fernando Araujo. In 2010, he became the leader of Front 37. Arrest warrants were pending against him for rebellion, kidnapping for ransom, narcotics trafficking, and extortion. The multiple terrorist actions in which he participated include: • The massacre of 13 people in June 2001. • An attack on a Marine convoy that left 12 Military personnel dead and nine wounded. • A terrorist attack on National Police units in June 2003. • In February 2008, he ordered the installation and activation of an improvised explosive device targeting an electrical transmission tower in Tabacalito. • In 2010 and 2011, he was responsible for several attacks on National Army units.
By Dialogo January 24, 2013 On January 17, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the designation of the Meza Flores Drug Trafficking Organization, including its leader, Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, several key family members, and three companies, all of which help facilitate the operations of the organization. The announcement, pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act), is the first designation and listing of the Meza Flores narcotics operation as a Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO). This means that anyone providing material support to, or acting for or on behalf of the Meza Flores DTO, can be designated by OFAC in future actions. This designation generally prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with these eight individuals, three entities, and the entire DTO, and also freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction. The Meza Flores DTO operates out of Guasave, Sinaloa, Mexico and since 2000, has been responsible for the distribution of large quantities of methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, and cocaine to the United States. The Meza Flores DTO is one of the primary rivals to the Sinaloa Cartel in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. As a result of this rivalry, the Meza Flores DTO has engaged in an extremely violent turf war with the Sinaloa Cartel which has resulted in the quadrupling of drug-war killings in the last four years and an increase in kidnappings and arson within the state of Sinaloa. “By targeting the leaders of this extremely violent Sinaloa-based drug trafficking organization we are protecting the U.S. financial system from yet another source of illicit money tied to the narcotics trade,” said OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin. “OFAC will continue to target this organization as well as other Mexican drug trafficking operations that are threatening the United States.” OFAC is designating Fausto Isidro Meza Flores (also known as “Chapito Isidro”), the leader of the Meza Flores DTO for his role in the narcotics trafficking activities of the organization and for playing a significant role in international narcotics trafficking. Fausto Isidro Meza Flores’ wife, Araceli Chan Inzuna; his father, Fausto Isidro Meza Angulo; mother, Angelina Flores Apodaca; sister, Flor Angely Meza Flores; and uncles, Agustin Flores Apodaca, Salome Flores Apodaca, and Panfilo Flores Apodaca were also designated for acting on behalf of Fausto Isidro Meza Flores and the Meza Flores DTO. In July 2012, Agustin Flores Apodaca, was arrested in Mexico for distribution of narcotics and he remains in Mexican custody. Finally, three companies located in Guasave, Sinaloa, that are owned by and acting on behalf of the Meza Flores DTO; a grain transportation company, Autotransportes Terrestres S.A. DE C.V.; a gas and service station, Auto Servicio Jatziry S.A. DE C.V.; and a construction company, Constructora Jatziry De Guasave S.A. DE C.V., were also designated. This action would not have been possible without the support of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Joint Field Command Arizona, and U.S. State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Internationally, OFAC has designated more than 1,200 businesses and individuals linked to 97 drug kingpins since June 2000. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals could face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.
Dario Medrano, a spokesman for the DNCD, said an investigation has been launched to capture those associated with the presumed narcotics. Wow these guys are so cool how they fight they seem to be shining along those paths man it’s great to see those Armed Forces from neighboring countries Peru and Bolivia Dario Medrano, a spokesman for the DNCD, said an investigation has been launched to capture those associated with the presumed narcotics. The Dominican Republic’s Military recently teamed with several of the country’s security forces to seize 100 packages of a substance that law enforcement authorities are testing for cocaine and heroin from a ship. Peruvian President Ollanta Humala has deployed the Armed Forces to the Huallaga Valley, a major coca-growing region in the country’s northeast, to combat increased violence by the Shining Path terrorist group. Dominican Military helps seize presumed narcotics The Huallaga Valley, which stretches into the Provinces of Huánuco, San Martín, and Ucayali, is a hotbed for coca plantations that are overseen by the Shining Path, which uses narcotrafficking proceeds to fund its terrorist activities. Coca is the main ingredient used to produce cocaine. Agents with the Center for Information and Joint Coordination (CICC) were checking cargo on the ship’s dock when they noticed one of the container’s seals appeared to have been altered. It was sent to an area where it could undergo a more comprehensive search by security agents in the presence of Deputy Prosecutor Pamela Ramírez. Upon opening the container, law enforcement officers found two bags containing 33 and 34 packages respectively. The packages were sent to a forensic laboratory to be tested and weighed. The Intelligence Department of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces (J-2), the National Investigations Department (DNI), the Specialized Port Security Corps (CESP) and the Dominican National Directorate for Drug Control (DNCD) also participated in the seizure. Agents with the Center for Information and Joint Coordination (CICC) were checking cargo on the ship’s dock when they noticed one of the container’s seals appeared to have been altered. It was sent to an area where it could undergo a more comprehensive search by security agents in the presence of Deputy Prosecutor Pamela Ramírez. Upon opening the container, law enforcement officers found two bags containing 33 and 34 packages respectively. The packages were sent to a forensic laboratory to be tested and weighed. The increased Military forces were deployed to support the area after the president declared a 60-day state of emergency there on February 20. The decree gives the Armed Forces more power to combat the Shining Path, which works with local narcotrafficking groups and gangs to grow and transport cocaine, according to Humala. The Intelligence Department of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces (J-2), the National Investigations Department (DNI), the Specialized Port Security Corps (CESP) and the Dominican National Directorate for Drug Control (DNCD) also participated in the seizure. The Huallaga Valley, which stretches into the Provinces of Huánuco, San Martín, and Ucayali, is a hotbed for coca plantations that are overseen by the Shining Path, which uses narcotrafficking proceeds to fund its terrorist activities. Coca is the main ingredient used to produce cocaine. Peruvian President Ollanta Humala has deployed the Armed Forces to the Huallaga Valley, a major coca-growing region in the country’s northeast, to combat increased violence by the Shining Path terrorist group. The increased Military forces were deployed to support the area after the president declared a 60-day state of emergency there on February 20. The decree gives the Armed Forces more power to combat the Shining Path, which works with local narcotrafficking groups and gangs to grow and transport cocaine, according to Humala. By Dialogo February 24, 2015 The Dominican Republic’s Military recently teamed with several of the country’s security forces to seize 100 packages of a substance that law enforcement authorities are testing for cocaine and heroin from a ship. Dominican Military helps seize presumed narcotics
By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo September 01, 2016 To more effectively counteract the threat of transnational organized crime, mainly drug trafficking, a team from the Colombian Air Force (FAC, for its Spanish acronym) offered a training program on aerial surveillance to members of the Guatemalan Air Force (GAF). The training will strengthen the Central American country’s air defense capacities. From June 13th to July 1st, a total of ten GAF members participated in the aerial surveillance basic training offered by the FAC’s Combat Air Command CACOM-1. The training took place at the GAF’s Central Air Command in Guatemala City. “The course is a support initiative between the United States and Colombia, in which the Action Plan on Regional Security Cooperation provides the Central American region with a series of consultancies for the different Armed Services: Marines, Army, and Air Force. Each country decides which courses it needs. U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) provides the logistics for the transfer of instructors, and Colombia provides the personnel,” said Brigadier General Guillermo Alfredo Orozco Rodas, commander of the GAF, in an interview with Diálogo. The course The training offered to the second lieutenants of the GAF included two weeks of academic instruction and one week of practical training, during which they simulated illicit flight scenarios. They also used the radar located in Puerto San José, Escuintla, which is controlled by members of Civil Aviation and the Guatemalan Army. The participants, who make up the first air defense group to complete the training, were instructed in air-space control and surveillance procedures and protocols that are based both on the successful experience of the FAC, with respect to the control of drug trafficking and on the command and control structure of the institution. The officers were trained on how to promptly detect illicit aircraft and to work with the ground and maritime forces, and to alert other countries with which they share a border [Mexico and Honduras] in order to make a coordinated effort against drug trafficking. Colombian experience Through the U.S.-Colombia Action Plan, Colombia has intensified its efforts to export its experiences to countries in Central America, the Caribbean, and elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere that are impacted by the effects of transnational organized crime. This plan was announced in 2012 by President Barack Obama and his Colombian counterpart, President Juan Manuel Santos. With assistance from the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and SOUTHCOM, the Action Plan has led to hundreds of training events to strengthen capacity since its creation in 2013. According to the latest 2016 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report issued by the U.S. Department of State, the majority of cocaine [90 percent] that enters the United States passes through Central America. The report indicates that Guatemala continues to be an important transit country for illegal drugs, where transnational criminal organizations continue taking advantage of the porous borders between Guatemala and Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico to smuggle migrants, narcotics, and other illicit products. Colombia is helping improve security in Central America. For Brig. Gen. Orozco, “The Colombian Air Force is a strategic ally for the Central American region. With the different courses, capacities, and assets, we can really continue to grow the process of air defense in Guatemala.” After decades of armed conflict, Colombia was not just a victim. It also has felt the repercussions of the illicit trafficking of drugs, organized crime, and gangs. The challenges of struggling with these issues have allowed Colombia to export a resource that is new and possibly more valuable to the region – security. “The Armed Forces of Guatemala are benefitting from Colombia’s accumulated experience to be able to implement and adapt specific programs such as air interdiction, training of crews, and aerial intelligence,” indicated Brig. Gen. Orozco. With the development of these activities, the National Air Defense System Education Center, which is a part of CACOM-1, has established itself as one of FAC’s internationally recognized schools. With this achievement, they have strengthened the institution’s educational capacities at the Latin American level, as well as their bonds of friendship with the air forces throughout the continent, according to a FAC press release from June 30th. Guatemalan results “In addition to this inter-institutional work, there is also the work of state organizations and specialized units of the Ministry of the Interior, as well as international counter-narcotics agencies. Today, we have good results in the area of drug confiscation, which was really our challenge. Our motto is that we must continue protecting our society from the repercussions of criminal activity,” said Brig. Gen. Orozco. Guatemala seized a total of 3,337 kilos over the first six months of this year. During the first nine months of 2015, security forces confiscated 7.25 metric tons of cocaine, according to the U.S. State Department. To continue strengthening the fight against drug trafficking, the Guatemalan Government will allocate three radars in 2017 that will help monitor illegal flights in the region. The Guatemalan authorities will be able to share information with countries that have similar equipment, such as the United States, Colombia, and Mexico. Cooperation The joint training promotes cooperation among military institutions in the Latin American region in the fight against international drug trafficking. “Although it is important to increase and maintain cooperation with Colombia, Guatemala has sustained a good relationship with Mexico. We hold bilateral meetings, and the GAF receives training in air force issues,” said Brig. Gen. Orozco. The Cooperative Guatemala–U.S. Relationship “It is very important and hugely relevant because we maintain a close relationship with the United States in different fields of activity – not only in supporting the fight against drugs but also in humanitarian aid,” said Brigadier General Juan Manuel Pérez Ramírez, chief of Staff of the Guatemalan National Defense.
By by Lee A. Rials, WHINSEC Public Affairs April 27, 2017 Felicidades Mi CapitÃ¡n Monterrosa, estas son bendiciones de Dios y un gran reconocimiento a su labor durante su carrera como profesional de las armas, que Dios le siga bendiciendo, saludos Muy orgullosa del Cap Rafael Monterrosa, un hombre ejemplar, en todos los aspectos. Salvadoran Army Captain Rafael A. Monterrosa is the U.S. Army Training & Doctrine Command’s Officer Instructor of the Year for 2016. Capt. Monterrosa is the chief instructor and course director for the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation’s (WHINSEC) Cadet Leadership Development Course, offered up to eight times per year to military cadets from the United States and other regional countries. Although WHINSEC is one of the smallest education facilities in the U.S. Army, it draws from the best U.S. and partner-nation instructors. Capt. Monterrosa follows last year’s Educator of the Year, Chilean Army Col. Luis Cuellar, as an honoree, and in its short history, the institute has had one other TRADOC Instructor of the Year. Remarkable in this is that Capt. Monterrosa teaches in Spanish, so his entry in the competition was in Spanish, with interpretation by the institute’s interpreter/translators. Capt. Monterrosa first came to WHINSEC in 2002 as a cadet in El Salvador’s Military Academy, taking the very course he is now teaching. After his commissioning in 2003, Capt. Monterrosa went to Field Artillery Basic Course in El Salvador, the Field Artillery Advanced Course in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, back to El Salvador for a basic Airborne Course, and eventually back to WHINSEC in 2015. In addition to the Instructor Training Courses at the institute that brought Capt. Monterrosa to Master Instructor status, he has also taken the UN Peacekeeping Operations Course. His operational assignments have been varied and challenging, adding to his credibility as an instructor. He has been an Infantry platoon leader, an Infantry company commander, a Field Artillery platoon leader, and a Battery Commander for the 102 Field Artillery Battalion. In 2007, Capt. Monterrosa was deployed to Al Kut, Iraq, with the Salvadoran Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom.