HomeNewsBriefIs Ecuador’s ‘Pablo Escobar’ a Member of Colombia’s FARC?
BRIEF

Is Ecuador’s ‘Pablo Escobar’ a Member of Colombia’s FARC?

COLOMBIA / 19 SEP 2017 BY TRISTAN CLAVEL EN

A jailed Ecuadorean drug capo is claiming to be a member of Colombia’s demobilized FARC guerrilla group in order to receive judicial benefits offered to former fighters under a 2016 peace agreement. But simply appearing on the FARC’s membership list may not be enough to prove association with the group, raising questions about how to verify who should be allowed to take advantage of the peace process, and who should not.

Washington Prado Alava, who was dubbed the “Pablo Escobar” of Ecuador after his arrest in Colombia earlier this year, is attempting to block his extradition to the United States in Colombia’s Supreme Court by claiming he is a member of the demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC), El Tiempo reported on September 16.

The peace deal signed with the FARC last year promised members of the group they would not be extradited. Prado’s claim to FARC membership is reportedly based on a letter confirming him as such, which was signed by Gustavo González, alias “Rambo,” the former head of the FARC’s Daniel Aldana Mobile Column. Prado’s lawyers have asked the Supreme Court to call on González to confirm the claims.

Prado stands accused of heading the most powerful criminal organization on the Colombian and Ecuadorean Pacific Coast. Unknown to the public until his arrest, Prado allegedly shipped 250 metric tons of cocaine to the US Pacific Coast, according to US and Colombian authorities. His purchase of coca from the Daniel Aldana Mobile Column was reportedly documented, but official intelligence did not show Prado as a FARC member.

InSight Crime Analysis

Prado’s case points to the FARC’s complex ties with the drug trade, which at times can blur the lines between a guerrilla fighter and a trafficker. Indeed, it is interesting that Prado’s membership claims are linked to the Daniel Aldana Mobile Column, formerly one of the FARC’s most powerful structures.

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profiles

The Prado case also shows the difficult position in which the FARC have found themselves with respect to the peace agreement. As pointed out by El Tiempo, declaring the Ecuadorean capo as a member of the guerrilla group would mean taking responsibility for the 250 metric tons of cocaine he allegedly shipped, a problematic admission of guilt for an organization that maintains its involvement in the drug trade stayed inside Colombian borders.

Denying Prado’s claim, on the other hand, will no doubt fuel suspicion that mid-ranking FARC members were involved in wrongfully slipping traffickers into FARC membership lists so that they could improperly take advantage of the provisions of the peace deal. The FARC have previously stated that the group’s membership lists will be vetted intensively, arguing that the two dozen other cases like Prado’s will be resolved. However, the group has not publicly commented on Prado’s case specifically, suggesting that the organization may be debating internally about the best way to handle it.

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

COLOMBIA / 26 APR 2018

A US court handed down an 11-year sentence to a former "cocaine cowboy" whose brother is currently fighting deportation from…

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2015

A high-ranking official in Peru has suggested synthetic drugs will fill the void left by a shrinking market for cocaine,…

AUC / 11 MAR 2011

Paramilitary commanders have said that the demobilization of some elements of the AUC was faked, with the blessing of government…

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…