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Cablegate: Tough Week for the Bad Guys: Colombian Police Forces

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #3604/01 2692245
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 252245Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4936
INFO RHEHOND/DIR ONDCP WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF STATE AIR WING PATRICK AFB FL

UNCLAS BOGOTA 003604

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR INL/LP
DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/AND

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR PREL PGOV CO
SUBJECT: TOUGH WEEK FOR THE BAD GUYS: COLOMBIAN POLICE FORCES
DECIMATE NARCOTRAFFICKING ORGANIZATIONS AND THEIR ASSETS

1.(U) SUMMARY: Colombian National Police (CNP) forces, trained and
equipped by the United States, captured Criminal Band (Banda
Criminal or BACRIM in Spanish) leader alias "Memin"; killed the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC in Spanish) 34th Front
Commander, alias " El Paisa"; and dealt an indelible blow to FARC
21st Front during the week of September 13-21. In addition,
U.S.-trained Carabineros and Police Junglas captured FARC military
supplies, destroyed multiple high-yield Hydrochloric Acid (HCL)
labs, and seized a 45-foot semi-submersible and a semi-submersible
construction facility near the Ecuadorian border. END SUMMARY.

2.(SBU) On September 13, the Colombian Antinarcotics Police (DIRAN)
supported by the Colombian Air Force (COLAF), attacked the FARC 21st
Front Headquarters near Chaparral, Tolima. The COLAF dropped nine
bombs on the mountain camp as 36 DIRAN Junglas (Colombian
Antinarcotics Police Airmobile Commandos) conducted the airmobile
assault. Subsequent intelligence indicated that 24 of the estimated
37 FARC guerrillas were wounded during the attack with no friendly
casualties.

3.(SBU) On September 18, The CNP's Task Force "Bloque de Busqueda"
("Search Block") captured Luis Arnulfo Tuberquia, alias "Memin."
"Memin," the former paramilitary leader of the United Self-Defense
Forces of Colombia (AUC in Spanish) Northwestern Block was the
principal subordinate of the notorious, and still at-large
nacrotrafficker, Daniel Rendon Herrera, alias "Don Mario." In
addition to narcotrafficking, "Memin" is accused of 400 murders in
the Antioquia State. CNP forces conducting the operation included
the US-trained and equipped Carabinero Mobile Squadron (EMCAR).

4.(SBU) On September 19, the DIRAN Junglas captured a 45 foot
semi-submersible craft and a semi-submersible construction facility
located deep in the mangrove swamp near the Ecuadorian border, 25
miles directly south of Tumaco, 300 meters away from the Ecuadorian
border on the Pacific coast. Estimates are that the semi-submersible
construction site had been operation for over two years.

5.(SBU) On September 21, the CNP and COLAF attacked the FARC 34th
Front Headquarters located 62 miles north of Quibdo in Vigia del
Fuerte, Antioquia State. Following the COLAF bombing mission, 45
CNP Commandos rappelled in to search the area. They found the body
of FARC 34th Front Commander Aicardo de Jesus Agudelo, alias "El
Paisa," his personal computer and four cellular phones. "El Paisa"
had spent over 20 years in the FARC and is believed to be
responsible for planning and executing over 500 murders and 400
kidnappings in the Antioquia. In May, 2003, "El Paisa" had ordered
the death of eight kidnapped Colombian soldiers, the ex-governor of
Antioquia Guillermo Gaviria, and the ex-Minister of Defense Gilberto
Echeverri when he feared that a Colombian Army rescue force was
headed to his camp.

6. (SBU) Throughout the week of September 13-21 several other
successes were registered by the CNP. The Colombian National Police
at the Port of Cartagena seized 1.6 tons of cocaine destined for a
cargo shipment to Guatemala (street value $48 million). Antioquia
EMCAR units captured two caches containing 163 rifles, 4 PKM Machine
guns, 1 Multiple Grenade Launcher, 500 kgs of cocaine, 200 kgs of
cocaine base and a large quantity of ammunition and grenades. The
Cauca EMCAR captured 25 rifles, 99,300 rounds of rifle ammunition,
grenades, and other equipment. The EMCAR in the state of Risaralda
destroyed a FARC camp and the EMCAR in the state of Caldas destroyed
an HCL lab in the municipality of Victoria. The DIRAN Junglas
destroyed two cocaine HCL labs in Magdalena Medio on Sep 17,
capturing 500 kilos of cocaine. The Junglas also destroyed three
HCL labs in Cauca State, containing a total of 650 kilos of cocaine
(US street value $19.5 million).

7. (U) The Colombian Army Counterdrug Brigade was also quite active.
On September 15, the 3rd Battalion destroyed a sulfuric acid
factory and an HCL lab in the vicinity of Playa del Mira, Narino.
The 2nd Battalion destroyed 9 coca base labs in Meta and Guaviare,
and the 1st Battalion destroyed one base lab in Putumayo. The
discovery of an improvised sulfuric acid lab in a very remote area
indicates that the measures to control sulfuric acid and other
precursor chemicals must be having some impact.

8. (U) COMMENT: While this was an exceptionally busy week for the
security forces of Colombia, these types of operations occur every
week. It is clear that USG-provided training and equipment have
given Colombia the ability to take the fight to the bad guys and
deal serious simultaneous blows to narcoterrorism on multiple

fronts. END COMMENT.

NICHOLS

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