HomeNewsBriefFormer Panama Policeman Is a FARC Leader: Officials
BRIEF

Former Panama Policeman Is a FARC Leader: Officials

CRIMINAL MIGRATION / 1 OCT 2013 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

A former Panama policeman has become a commander in the FARC's 57th Front, demonstrating the Colombian guerrillas' established presence across the Central American border and practice of recruiting foreigners into their ranks.

According to a Colombian Defense Ministry document accessed by El Tiempo, Jose Luis Valencia Mosquera Asprilla, alias "El Pana," has been promoted to a commander in the 57th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), following the death of a former unit leader in an August military air bombardment.

This same information was relayed by Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon and Panamanian Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino when they met on September 30 to discuss border security. Mulino said: "For us, alias 'Pana' is a narco-terrorist who represents what the FARC is for Panama: another drug cartel linked to international drug trafficking," reported AFP.

According to El Tiempo, the new leader spent two years in the Panamanian police force before joining the guerrilla group in 2001. The Defense Ministry document suggests Mosquera's knowledge of military strategy and drug trafficking in the Darien Gap helped him gain promotion.

InSight Crime Analysis

The news provides further evidence of the 57th Front's infiltration into its Central American neighbor. Despite government claims that Panama is FARC-free, the destruction of two FARC camps in 2012 highlighted the group's presence in the Darien Gap, a dense jungle region along the border between the two countries. The recent discoveries of two coca plantations in Panama were also thought to be linked to the 57th Front, which is heavily involved in cocaine trafficking and is one of the organization's richest fronts.

SEE ALSO: FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

This announcement is also further evidence of the FARC's recruitment of foreigners. In 2011, the Panamanian government expressed concern over the recruitment of minors in their country by guerrillas, several months after a video emerged showing the group training minors on the Panamanian border.

The trend is not limited to Panama. A Brazilian who recently turned himself in to authorities said he was recruited by the rebel group along with at least 30 compatriots. An Ecuadorean FARC member was killed in the 2008 bombing of the camp of alias "Raul Reyes," and there have been reports of Peruvian and Venezuelan FARC members. Perhaps the most high-profile example of a foreign FARC member is Tanja Nijmeijer, a Dutch woman currently participating in peace talks in Havana.

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

COLOMBIA / 24 MAR 2017

Colombian guerrillas allegedly held an illegal political meeting in the country's southwest, while authorities dismantled a local corruption ring, highlighting…

BRAZIL / 30 JUL 2014

Police in Paraguay say they believe high-ranking members of Brazil's PCC criminal organization have fled Brazilian justice and relocated to…

CONTRABAND / 3 NOV 2020

A sizeable seizure of adulterated rum shipped to Honduras from Europe reveals the extent to which black markets for alcohol…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…