HomeNewsBriefELN Guerrilla Boss 'Hiding Out in Venezuela': Colombian Intelligence
BRIEF

ELN Guerrilla Boss 'Hiding Out in Venezuela': Colombian Intelligence

ELN / 8 AUG 2012 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

Colombian intelligence indicates that a top leader of the ELN guerrilla group is operating out of a Venezuelan border state, directing extortion rackets, drug trafficking and attacks on the security forces with impunity, according to reports.

El Tiempo reports that Colombian authorities believe Gustavo Anibal Giraldo Quinchia, alias “Pablito,” of the National Liberation Army (ELN) has taken refuge in Venezuela. He reportedly lives on a farm in the western state of Apure, and regularly coordinates guerrilla operations across the border in the Colombian department of Arauca. Pablito is thought to have fled to Venezuela in 2009, after an ELN commando unit broke him out of a jail in Arauca, Colombia, in a dramatic escape.

Pablito is the commander of the ELN’s Eastern Front, as well as a member of the group’s central command, the National Directorate.

According to Colombian law enforcement, Pablito and the ELN guerrillas under his command have become a major security threat in Arauca department, which has seen a spike in rebel activity of late. Over the August 4-5 weekend, for instance, the province saw several incidents possibly linked to guerrillas, including the murder of a businessman, an attack on a police station, an attempted bombing, and the burning of a commercial truck. While the bomb attempt was attributed to Colombia's biggest rebel organization, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), it is unclear which group was behind the other incidents.

InSight Crime Analysis

Pablito’s presence in Venezuela is not a new discovery. Although Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced last year that Venezuela was free of FARC encampments, he did not mention ELN units. Indeed, the fact that the ELN operates in Venezuela has been something of an open secret for years.

The question, however, is the degree to which Venezuelan authorities tolerate their presence. President Hugo Chavez has repeatedly denied allegations that his government supports Colombian rebels. However, on a 2011 visit to Arauca, both civilian and law enforcement sources told InSight Crime that the farm Pablito was living on had actually been expropriated from its previous owners by the government, suggesting that the guerrilla boss' presence is sanctioned by officials.

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.

Tags

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

COLOMBIA / 9 MAR 2011

(Originally published 3 March, reprinted with permission from Adam Isacson and Just the Facts.) The State…

HUMAN TRAFFICKING / 4 SEP 2013

Authorities in Venezuela have arrested four suspected members of a child trafficking network that used a children's foundation as a…

COCA / 22 DEC 2020

President-elect Joe Biden has a chance to reset the table on US-Latin American relations, but the Donald Trump administration’s schizophrenic,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…