HomeColombiaNéstor Gregorio Vera Fernández, alias 'Iván Mordisco'
COLOMBIA

Néstor Gregorio Vera Fernández, alias 'Iván Mordisco'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / LATEST UPDATE SEPTEMBER 21, 2021 EN

Nestor Gregorio Vera Fernández, alias “Iván Mordisco,” is currently one of the most important FARC dissident commanders in Colombia. Until 2016, he served as commander of the 1st Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC). But in June of that year, he became the first commander to abandon the peace process between the rebel group and the Colombian government. His power currently lies in commanding the dissident 1st Front, made up of approximately 400 members and present across the departments of Guaviare, Vaupés, Meta and Vichada. His 1st Front has also established a significant presence inside Venezuela, especially near the Colombian border.

Following the death of Miguel Botache Santillana, alias “Gentil Duarte,” in Venezuela in May 2022, Iván Mordisco assumed the leadership of dissident fronts formerly under Duarte's command.

History

Iván Mordisco began his criminal activities upon joining the FARC in the late 1990s. He began as a foot soldier, but quickly specialized as a sniper and explosives expert within the Armando Ríos Front in San José del Guaviare.

His rise within the FARC began in 2008, when he temporarily served as commander of the 1st Front due to the capture of its leader Gerardo Aguilar, alias 'Cesar.' In 2009, Marco Fidel Suárez, alias 'Kokoriko,' took control of the front, and Iván Mordisco became the head of the 1st Front’s "public order operations" in Guaviare and Vaupés. Until 2012, he focused on forced recruitment and illicit crop protection in both departments before again becoming commander of the 1st Front.

In 2015, Iván Mordisco was briefly captured by the Army Special Anti-Drug Trafficking Brigade (Brigada Especial Contra el Narcotraficante) in a rural area of Miraflores municipality. However, the guerrilla commander was quickly released although details of this incident are lacking.

By 2016, it was clear that Iván Mordisco did not support the peace process. He solidified his stance by sending a letter to the FARC negotiating team in Cuba, making it clear that the 1st Front would not demobilize. Additionally, he invited all "guerrillas and militia members" who did not agree with the peace process to "continue the insurgent struggle." These statements made him the first senior FARC leader to dissent.

Iván Mordisco is reputed as being a particularly violent leader, with disdain for civilian populations. With the blow to the dissident cause that was the death of Edgar Mesías Salgado, alias “Rodrigo Cadete,” Mordisco became a key player in Gentil Duarte's plan to unite the FARC dissidents and had been been tasked with running this operation in northern Colombia.

SEE ALSO: Gentil Duarte's Master Plan to Reunite Colombia's FARC Dissidents

Criminal Activity

As commander of the 1st Front since 2012, Iván Mordisco has been behind crimes such as the extortion of tradesmen, farmers and other rural inhabitants, illegal mining, and ordered an increase in the planting, processing and trafficking of coca in Guaviare. At the end of that year, the Ombudsman's Office reported that the organization, already in open dissent, forcibly recruited an unknown number of youths in rural Miraflores.

Iván Mordisco controls illicit crop cultivation, illegal mining and drug routes corridors for the transport of cocaine through Guaviare, Vaupés, Vichada and the south of Meta. The 1st Front has also opened drug trafficking routes through northern Amazonas, in the area of Puerto Córdoba and La Pedrera, where the Apaporis and Caqueta rivers provide a route to Brazil.

Over the course of 2020 and 2021, while Mordisco has not personally been sighted, operations have continued to weaken his forces. In April 2021, the Colombian Attorney General’s Office said a severe blow had been dealt to Mordisco’s financial and logistical capabilities due to arrests of key personnel. In September 2021, three members of the 1st Front were reportedly gunned down by the Colombian Army in Arauca.

The 1st Front has also been reportedly engaged in regular clashes with forces of the Segunda Marquetalia, a rival dissident FARC group. Sensationally, forces under Mordisco are even alleged to have assassinated Seuxis Paucias Hernández Solarte, alias "Jesús Santrich," one of the most notable former FARC commanders, inside Venezuela, although this has not been confirmed.

Geography

Iván Mordisco is believed to currently be based in the department of Guaviare, particularly around the municipalities of Calamar, Miraflores and San José del Guaviare. His most important area of control is the Barranquillita area of Miraflores.

He controls territory along the Guaviare river, close to the villages of En Charras, Puerto Alegre, Barranco Colorado, Puerto Alvira and Mocuare. This area, which marks the borders between Meta, Guaviare, Vichada and Guania, has historically been the 44th Front's sphere of influence. But dissidents from the 1st and 16th Fronts have also acted there under the command of "Giovanny Chuspas."

His 1st Front has also established a significant presence inside Venezuela, especially near the Colombian border.

Allies and Enemies

Iván Mordisco's closest alliance was with Gentil Duarte, who commanded the 7th Front until his death in Venezuela in 2022, and led an operation to reunite FARC dissidents across Colombia into a unified fighting structure. Mordisco is now reportedly in command of the project begun by Duarte, which includes several ex-FARC groups in Cauca, Nariño, Putumayo, Norte de Santander and Arauca, among others.

Iván Mordisco and his allies are now in open conflict with another faction of the ex-FARC Mafia, the Segunda Marquetalia, led by influential commanders Luciano Marín Arango, alias 'Iván Márquez,' and Hernán Darío Velásquez, alias 'El Paisa.' It is believed Mordisco may have been behind the killing of another top Segunda Marquetalia leader, Seuxis Pausías Hernández Solarte, alias 'Jesús Santrich,' in Venezuela in May 2021.

Prospects

Since abandoning the FARC peace process, and following the death of Gentil Duarte, Iván Mordisco has become one of the most important leaders of the ex-FARC Mafia in Colombia and Venezuela. He is leading plans to unite the ex-FARC Mafia.

His strength lies in the 1st Front's current manpower — and the 14 dissident groups in 17 departments of Colombia that Duarte was leading at the time of his death — as well as control over international drug trafficking routes leading to Brazil and Venezuela and a network of alliances with dissidents in and outside of Colombia.

Though Mordisco is the natural successor to lead dissidents' aims, he is known for having a difficult and conflicting personality, and may not have the same acceptance, negotiation abilities or ideological convening power as Duarte.

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