Dissident FARC rebel leader Walter Patricio Arizala, better known as Guacho, maintained a five-month-long conversation with an Ecuadorian police officer as violence escalated on Ecuador’s border with Colombia. The communication came through texts and phone calls over the popular WhatsApp social media.
In the conversations, which began in November 2017 and ended in early April, Guacho made demands and threats and acknowledged bombings and kidnappings carried out by his Óliver Sinisterra Front, a leftist rebel and drug trafficking organization that controls a large area of Nariña State in southwest Colombia.
The police officer involved in the discussions with Guacho turned over notes and texts to intelligence officers working with the federal prosecutor’s office in Quito. The officer has been reassigned outside of the border area and Ecuador’s interior ministry says that there will be no further contact with Guacho or members of any other “terrorist group.”
Transcripts and notes from the conversations were released Friday by the Univision News service, reportedly delivered by “representatives” of Guacho.
In the conversations, Guacho demanded the release of Sinisterra Front members held in Ecuadorian jails and the termination of law enforcement and military agreements with Colombia aimed at shutting down Sinisterra operations. On three occasions he demanded secret meetings with Ecuadorian officials.
In his calls and messages, Guacho admitted the bombings and kidnappings of journalists from the El Comercio newspaper and promised more violence if his demands were not met.
He was particularly incensed by a late-night police raid March 16 on his mother’s home in Mataje, just south of the Colombian border. “If you f**k with my family, I will f**k with you. I will kill your police, your army and your civilians,” he said in one text.
Four marines died in a roadside bombing three days after the house raid.
In another text, Guacho describes paying $10 million in bribes to top Ecuadorian police and military officials.
The governments of Ecuador and Colombia have offered a $280,000 award for the capture of Guacho, dead or alive.