MANHATTAN (CN) – Three alleged FARC guerillas face federal charges of conspiring to aid Colombia’s leftist rebel army, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejercito del Pueblo (the FARC), which the Department of State has designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
Alexis Freddy Mosquera-Renteria, aka Ronald, Yarlei Banol-Ramos, aka Diana, and Jorge Abel Ibarguen-Palacio, aka Turbo, were brought to the United States to face terrorism charges after being arrested in February, following a shootout with Panamanian National Police in coastal waters off the coast of Panama.
They were ordered held without bail on Friday after a brief appearance in Federal Court.
Prosecutors say the FARC – whose Spanish name means Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Army of the People – is a structured criminal organization dedicated to the violent overthrow of Colombia’s democratically elected government. The organization contains different “blocs.” “fronts,” and “militias,” and governing bodies known as the “Secretariat” and the “Estado Mayor.”
The 57th Front of the FARC is involved in cocaine trafficking and getting supplies such as weapons, ammunition and uniforms. The group also funds itself through kidnapping for ransom, including foreign tourists traveling through FARC-controlled areas, according to the complaint.
Prosecutors say that on Feb. 22, 2008, the defendants were manning a 57th Front patrol boat when they were approached by a Panamanian National Police boat, which thought they needed assistance. Dressed in civilian clothing, the three crewmen and four other FARC members pointed their weapons at the police, then jumped onto the police boat, disarmed the officers and held them captive. When other Panamanian police boats arrived to help, an exchange of gunfire ensued, which wounded at least one Panamanian officer.
Renteria, Banol-Ramos, Ibarguen-Palacio and their alleged coconspirators were arrested and taken into custody by Panamanian National Police.
According to the complaint, a search of the defendants’ boat yielded explosives and detonators, weapons that included four loaded AK-47s, one Galil rifle and machetes, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, military backpacks, communication equipment and camouflage FARC uniforms. Scans conducted on the boat tested positive for the presence of cocaine.
After the arrests, the FARC’s 57th Front confirmed that the defendants were members, and threatened to take military action against Panama if the defendants are not released, according to prosecutors.