The trial has begun for 45 members of a drug money laundering network operating in Spain alleged to have provided funding for Colombia's FARC guerrillas, raising questions over the extent of the group's European links.
If convicted, Ecuadorean national Jenny Alexandra Fasce Schumaker could face up to 18 years in prison for heading a network that sent cocaine proceeds back to illegal organizations in Colombia and Ecuador between 2007 and 2010, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
On the first day of the trial, Fasce admitted sending large quantities of money to Colombia and Ecuador, charging a 3 percent commission for each transaction, but said she did not know if the money had come from drug trafficking activities or whether it was sent to the FARC, reported EFE. It is thought she succeeded in sending $8 million to Latin America, said Europa Press.
Authorities established a FARC link based on records of money orders Fasce sent to Colombia, among which they found the name of Juan Manuel Gomez Buitrago, a jailed FARC member accused of involvement in a 2006 massacre in the department of Huila, among other crimes. Authorities also found 12 others who received money thought to have been sent to the guerrilla group.
InSight Crime Analysis
There is evidence of the FARC's European ties. Information from the computer files of slain FARC leader Luis Edgar Devia Silva, alias "Raul Reyes," indicated links between the FARC and Spain's Basque separatist group the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA). The files also led to the arrest of a member of the FARC's international network in Spain, Maria Remedios Garcia, alias "Irene."
SEE ALSO: FARC Profile
In 2011, European police body Europol reported that intelligence found the FARC was among various Colombian groups involved in the European cocaine market -- but it's not thought it sells directly. It may be that it receives a cut of drug sales from business associates who do operate in Europe, such as Daniel "El Loco" Barrera, in addition to the money it makes selling such associates the coca base they need to make cocaine. Such a set-up might explain why the rebels might be receiving money such as that reportedly sent by Fasce, despite the fact they have no known established presence or trafficking routes in Europe.