HomeNewsBriefEcuador Soldiers Allegedly Trafficked Weapons to Ex-FARC Mafia
BRIEF

Ecuador Soldiers Allegedly Trafficked Weapons to Ex-FARC Mafia

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 18 OCT 2018 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

An investigation into several soldiers in Ecuador who are accused of supplying weapons to an ex-FARC mafia network operating in a key border region suggests that groups of former FARC fighters are growing stronger and building the capacity to corrupt military personnel.

On October 17, authorities in Ecuador arrested seven soldiers and seven civilians for their alleged role in trafficking weapons to the Oliver Sinisterra Front (Frente Oliver Sinisterra), an ex-FARC mafia group -- networks of dissident fighters from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC) -- led by Ecuadorean national Walter Patricio Arizala Vernaza, alias “Guacho,” El Comercio reported.

The weapons and ammunition allegedly trafficked to Guacho and his group were believed to be registered at a military stockpile in the capital Quito before the inventory was altered by a member of the network. The weapons were then moved to the town of Borbón in the coastal Esmeraldas province near the border with Colombia through parcels, interprovincial busses and private vehicles in order to avoid weapons checkpoints, according to a separate report from El Comercio.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Arms Trafficking

Authorities are searching military facilities in Guayas, Esmeraldas, Loja, Santo Domingo and Pichincha provinces where they say weapons and ammunition slated to be trafficked were hidden among provisions of toilet paper and rice, according to El Comercio.

Just last week on October 9, authorities intercepted a taxi in the town of Quinindé in Esmeraldas that was reportedly trafficking weapons and ammunition hidden in sacks of rice. Investigators believe that the arms trafficking network has been operating since at least 2016.

Ecuador’s army said in an October 17 press release that the institution “deeply regrets” that some of its members may have been involved in trafficking firearms and ammunition to a criminal group, and that it will cooperate with authorities in their investigation.

InSight Crime Analysis

Colombia’s ex-FARC mafia networks are quickly emerging as a dominant player in the country’s criminal world, and the recent arms trafficking investigation implicating members of Ecuador’s army suggests that authorities may be further from taking down Guacho and his network than they have led on.

Guacho’s ex-FARC mafia network has been establishing a strong presence in Ecuador's border region with Colombia. In January 2018, Guacho was allegedly responsible for a car bomb near the Colombia-Ecuador border in an effort to take control of this strategic area for drug trafficking activities along the Pacific coast. Guacho controls key drug trafficking routes in northern Ecuador and Colombia's southwest Nariño department, and is “at the service of [Mexico’s] Sinaloa Cartel,” Colombia Attorney General Néstor Humberto Martínez said in March of this year.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Ex-FARC Mafia

However, recent evidence suggested authorities were closing in on Guacho and his network. In June of this year, authorities in Ecuador identified several key players in his network shortly after his brother and his alleged second-in-command were captured. But the brazenness of Guacho's past violent acts and his links to many multi-ton cocaine shipments leaving Ecuador recently suggests that he may have more freedom to operate there.

Corrupting security forces is almost essential for criminal groups such as Guacho’s to survive and continue operating. These connections may explain why he has been able to avoid capture, especially after he was wounded last month during a Colombian military operation.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

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.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

AUC / 25 JUN 2021

Guillermo León Acevedo Giraldo, alias “Memo Fantasma,” a former paramilitary leader and longtime drug trafficker who escaped prosecution for decades…

COCA / 1 SEP 2021

Deforestation is the most visible face of environmental crime in Colombia’s Amazon.

ARGENTINA / 26 APR 2022

Authorities in Chile are sounding the alarm over repeated seizures of small quantities of arms being trafficked through Argentina, especially…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…