HomeColombiaNéstor Gregorio Vera Fernández, alias 'Iván Mordisco'
COLOMBIA

Néstor Gregorio Vera Fernández, alias 'Iván Mordisco'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / LATEST UPDATE OCTOBER 17, 2022 EN

Nestor Gregorio Vera Fernández, alias “Iván Mordisco,” is 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. He commanded the dissident 1st Front, made up of approximately 400 members and present across the departments of Guaviare, Vaupés, Meta and Vichada. It 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.

On July 11, it was reported that a camp belonging to Mordisco's men in the Colombian state of Caquetá was attacked by Army forces, killing at least 10 people. On July 15, Colombian authorities confirmed Mordisco was among those slain.

In October 2022, Mordisco confirmed rumors that he was still alive by appearing in a video stating that the political aims of the FARC had not changed.

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.

Criminal Activity

As commander of the 1st Front since 2012, Iván Mordisco was 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 controlled 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 Caquetá rivers provide a route to Brazil.

Over the course of 2020 and 2021, while Mordisco was personally been sighted, operations 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.

In 2022, with the death of Gentil Duarte, Mordisco temporarily became the leader of the Western Coordinating Command (Comando Coordinador de Occidente - CCO) and commander of the 1st and 7th Fronts of the ex–FARC Mafia.

Geography

Iván Mordisco was believed to 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 controlled territory along the Guaviare river, close to the villages of En Charras, Puerto Alegre, Barranco Colorado, Puerto Alvira and Mocuare.

His 1st Front had 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 Second Marquetalia, led by influential commander Luciano Marín Arango, alias 'Iván Márquez,' It is believed Mordisco may have been behind the killing of another top Second Marquetalia leader, Seuxis Pausías Hernández Solarte, alias 'Jesús Santrich,' in Venezuela in May 2021. Mordisco was even rumored to have ordered an attack against Iván Márquez in June 2022 in Venezuela although this has not been confirmed.

However, both Mordisco's faction and the Second Marquetalia have been left rudderless in 2022, with the deaths of so many ex-FARC Mafia commanders in quick succession.

Prospects

Since abandoning the FARC peace process, and following the death of Gentil Duarte, Iván Mordisco temporarily became the most important leader of the ex-FARC Mafia in Colombia and Venezuela.

His strength lay 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 was the natural successor to lead large parts of the ex-FARC Mafia, he is known for having a difficult and conflicting personality. He is unlikely to succeed in furthering plans to reunite the ex-FARC Mafia.

Confirmation in October 2022 that he survived the attack on his life earlier in the year means he may again play a key role in any attempt by President Gustavo Petro to encourage the ex-FARC mafia to demobilize.

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