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Ecuador News

Guacho’s identity confirmed with DNA match as mother travels to Colombia to claim his body

The mother of Walter Patricio Arizala, alias Guacho, is in Colombia to claim the body of her son. Margarita Vernaza said she intends to bury him in Esmeraldas Province Ecuador, where he was born.

Walter Patricio Artízala, alias Guacho.

On Monday, the Colombian government confirmed that the body in a morgue near Bogota is, in fact, Guacho’s.

For weeks, social media in Ecuador and Colombia had buzzed with reports claiming that Guacho was not dead and that the body in the morgue was that of another man. “We are happy to confirm that we have put those stories to rest,” said the assistant morgue director Monday. “We have matched the DNA of the corpse with that of his mother and she has verified his identity visually.”

Social media posters claimed last week that the body at the Bogota morgue had been identified as that of William Quiñónez, not of Walter Patricio Arizala, but officials say that Quiñónez was the name Guacho often used in Colombia. They also said that there was confusion about the identity of Guacho’s father, which resulted in his use of different names.

Guacho, a FARC commander who refused to sign a peace agreement with the Colombia government, was killed near Tumaco, Colombia December 21 during a Colombian military operation. He headed a large drug production and transporting organization, the Óliver Sinisterra Front, that operated in southwest Colombia and northwest Ecuador.

Guacho and Sinisterra are best known for kidnapping two Ecuadorian journalists, 32-year-old reporter Javier Ortega and 45-year-old photographer Paúl Rivas along with their 60-year-old driver, Efraín Segarra in March. Two weeks later, Arizala announced that the three had been killed and threatened Ecuador President Lenin Moreno that more murders were to come in retaliation for Ecuador’s capture and imprisonment of dozens of Sinisterra members and followers.

In April, a young Ecuadorian couple, Oscar Villacís, 24, and Katty Velasco, 20, went missing near Tumaco. Their bodies were found with stab wounds and other injuries.

According to Colombian authorities, Guacho and Sinisterra are also suspected of committing dozens of other murders in the area around Tumaco.