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Colombian Armed Forces Continue Purge of Ex-FARC Mafia Leaders

COLOMBIA / 14 JUN 2022 BY LARA LOAIZA EN

One month after the death of Gentil Duarte, the Colombian army has killed two more important dissident leaders, in the north and the west of the country, further curtailing the ex-FARC Mafia's capacity to coordinate its factions.

On June 13, President Iván Duque announced via Twitter the death of Leider Johnay Noscué Bototo, alias “Mayimbú,” in an army operation in the western department of Cauca. Mayimbú was the leader of a dissident faction of the now-defunct FARC guerrilla, also known as the ex-FARC Mafia, called the Jaime Martínez Mobile Column.

In 2018, the Jaime Martínez Mobile Column had expanded rapidly into crucial coca and marijuana production areas in the northern part of Cauca department and neighboring Valle del Cauca. Mayimbú's leading position made him a high-value target for the Colombian government. He was blamed for the 2019 murder of Karina García, a mayoral candidate for the municipality of Suárez, and for a wave of violence against Indigenous leaders in the region.

Noscué cooperated with Miguel Botache Santanilla, alias "Gentil Duarte," and several other dissidents in the area. In January 2022, Mayimbú assumed the Cauca leadership of the confederation of FARC dissidents allied with Gentil Duarte, following the death of Duarte's previous envoy, Euclides España Caicedo, alias "Jhonier," in Toribío, Cauca.

SEE ALSO: The Fall of Gentil Duarte – What Does It Mean for Colombia?

However, the ex-FARC Mafia have suffered other major blows of late. Three days before Mayimbú's death, the leader of the dissident 36th Front, Ricardo Abel Ayala Orrego, alias “Cabuyo,” was killed in a military operation in Barbosa, Antioquia.

With a presence in northern Antioquia, the 36th Front of the ex-FARC Mafia maintained control of several drug trafficking and illegal mining routes in the department. In 2018, security forces accused Cabuyo of the murder of three geologists from the Canadian multinational Continental Gold in Yarumal, landing him on authorities’ radar.

Cabuyo survived several military operations against him, including a bomb attack in 2018 and a sniper attack in 2021, in which he was wounded.

InSight Crime Analysis

Mayimbú’s death represents a serious blow to the faction of FARC dissidents, once led by Gentil Duarte, and which once vowed to reunite these disparate groups into one fighting force. The death of Cabuyo only adds to their woes as well as threatening to weaken their hold on the department of Antioquia.

With Mayimbu’s death, the ex-FARC Mafia have lost a key player who coordinate financial support and drug shipments with dissidents across the country. His death will not make it easy for Néstor Gregorio Vera Fernández, alias “Iván Mordisco," another old-time FARC leader, who assumed control of the network after Duarte’s death in Venezuela.

Mayimbú was in charge of numerous ex-FARC Mafia fronts, especially after Duarte's death. These included the Jaime Martínez and Dagoberto Ramos Mobile Columns in northern Cauca and Valle del Cauca, the Carlos Patiño Front in southern Cauca, the Franco Benavidez Mobile Column in northern Nariño, and the Rafael Aguilera Front along Cauca's Pacific coast.

His death not only raises questions about who will assume command of the faction, but also questions Mordisco's ability to lead the dissidents at the national level. Cauca is a strategic territory for the ex-FARC mafia, as the cultivation of creepy marijuana is concentrated there, as well as a coveted drug trafficking route via the Pacific Ocean to Central America.

SEE ALSO: The Criminal Portfolio of the Ex-FARC Mafia

To the north, FARC dissidents in Antioquia have been stuck between a rock and a hard place. Constant operations by the Colombian Army have reduced its capacity in the region. This has put the 36th Front on the back foot in its ongoing war against the Urabeños, also known as the Gulf Clan (Clan del Golfo).

Now, with Cabuyo’s death, the 36th Front may not have the strength to continue its war against the Urabeños. However, there is still a presence by Erlinson Chavarría Escobar, alias "Ramiro," the leader of the 18th Front, in the territory. The 18th Front is allied with the Second Marquetalia, which is also locked in a conflict with the Urabeños.

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