HomeNewsBriefArrest of FARC Gunrunner Points to Ecuador’s Illicit Arms Trade
BRIEF

Arrest of FARC Gunrunner Points to Ecuador’s Illicit Arms Trade

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 31 AUG 2012 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

The capture of a FARC operative who obtained arms for the guerrilla group in Ecuador is the latest sign that the country is increasing cooperation with authorities in neighboring Colombia to crack down on rebel activity in its territory.

Working with Colombian intelligence, Ecuadorean police arrested Edilson Castro Lopez, alias “Chicanero” (pictured) near Quito on August 4. Chicanero is accused of managing arms purchases for the Joint Western Command of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). According to El Tiempo, he oversaw arms trafficking operations through at least 175 points along the Ecuador-Colombia border.

He is believed to have orchestrated a recent shipment of 78 firearms destined for the FARC’s 6th Front in the southwestern province of Cauca, which was seized on July 27.

In addition to serving as a gunrunner for the guerrillas, officials claim that Chicanero is an explosives expert and has trained members of the FARC’s tactical units in manufacturing homemade bombs and landmines.

Chicanero was reportedly in Ecuador to undergo surgery on his knee, due to an injury which he received in a firefight with the Colombian military in 2005.

InSight Crime Analysis

The arrest of Chicanero is the latest sign of the changing security relationship between Ecuador and Colombia. While relations between the two have historically been rocky due to the FARC’s use of Ecuador as a safe haven, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has begun to crack down on guerrilla presence in the country. In January Correa sent 10,000 additional troops to the border, and Ecuadorean authorities have captured a number of high-level Colombian guerrillas this year.

This increased cooperation is not limited to arrests. On August 9, the two countries conducted a joint military raid on the Colombian border, seizing seven cocaine processing labs.

Still, the major challenge for both countries will be reining in arms trafficking. As Chicanero’s case demonstrates, Ecuador acts as a major source of weapons for armed groups in Colombia.

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Related Content

CARIBBEAN / 1 DEC 2010

According to a recent diplomatic cable sent by the United States Interest Section, the U.S. government has "reliable reporting indicating the…

COLOMBIA / 10 JAN 2013

Colombia's main criminal groups and leftist guerrillas along the Pacific Coast have aligned to traffic drugs in certain areas but…

EPP / 2 MAY 2011

A recently released hostage of Paraguayan guerrilla group the EPP says his captors boasted about their links to Colombia, Venezuela…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…