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Ecuador News

Guacho injured in weekend firefight as Ecuador and Colombia tighten noose on cartel

According to Ecuadorian and Colombian military sources, Wálter Patricio Arizala, alias Guacho, was wounded Saturday in a gun battle with military forces near the border. The Colombian military command reported that wounds suffered by the leader of the Óliver Sinisterra Front, formerly part of the FARC rebel army, were “very serious and possibly life threatening.”

The command said that Guacho escaped, carried off by his men and may be seeking medical assistance in Colombia or Ecuador.

“Guacho” is wanted dead or alive in both Ecuador and Colombia.

More than 3,000 soldiers from Ecuador and Colombia participated in an operation to kill or capture Guacho that began a week ago. The mission was based on intelligence that Guacho was hiding  in Nariño department, just north of the Ecuador-Colombia border.

Guacho is believed to command between 200 and 500 troops, mostly in southwestern Colombia. He refused to sign the 2015 peace agreement between the Colombian government and FARC leadership to end the 60-year-old guerilla war with the government and, according to the governments of Ecuador and Colombia, is now focused on manufacturing and transporting cocaine and other illegal drugs. The sources claim he is linked to two Mexican drug organizations.

Guacho and Sinisterra claimed credit for the kidnapping and murder of three Quito journalists in April, which sparked bi-national efforts for his capture. Both Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno and Colombian President Iván Duque call Guacho the “number one fugitive” in both countries.