User-agent: * Allow: / Legal news, political opinion, Satire, and lawyer thinking by Tim Paynter, Attorney at Law

Why Not Twitter This?

Friday, December 18, 2009

High ranking leaders of the FARC, or Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, agreed to guilty pleas to conspiring to import cocaine into the United States, and conspiring to distribute cocaine with the knowledge and intent that it would be imported into the United States.

The FARC, a Marxist Leninist revolutionary organization, has been the nemises of an otherwise stable government in Colombia, South America for over 40 years. While the organization was formed to be political in nature, thugs gained control of the party and used it for criminal activities. Kidnapping for ransom and cocaine trafficking are two major profit centers for the FARC.

Two FARC leaders, Rodriguez Mendieta, 46, and Aguilar Ramirez, 49, are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge HOGAN on March 5, 2010. Ramirez was captured on July 2, 2008, in joint military attack on a FARC camp. During the operation, three American hostages and several Colombian hostages were freed who had been held captive for over 5 years. Mendieta was arrested by Colombian authorities in late 2004.

Mendieta acknowledged that he was the Commander of the FARC's 24th Front and a member of the FARC's Estado Major. Ramirez acknowledged he was the Commander of the 1st Front of the FARC. Both men admitted to "leading and directing" other FARC members in the manufacture and distribution of cocaine. Ramirez also admitted he possessed firearms in connection with his narcotics trafficking activities.

FARC-EP (then known simply as FARC) was established in the 1960s as the military wing of the Colombian Communist Party because of repeated and systematic human right abuses by the US-backed elitist Colombian government and thus originated as a guerrilla movement.

FARC-EP remains the largest insurgent group in the Americas. According to the Colombian government FARC-EP has an estimated 11,000 members in 2009, down from 16,000 in 2001, having lost about one third of their fighting force since President Álvaro Uribe took office in 2002.

Rather than considering the FARC a political party, certain countrys including the U.S., Canada and Colombia classify the FARC as a violent non-state actor (VNSA). Classification as a Violat Non State Actor removes the veil of legitimacy as a political party and classifies it as a terrorists organization.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez rejected their classification as "terrorists". He considers them to be "real armies", and called on the Colombian and other governments to recognize the guerrillas as a “belligerent force”, rather than a terrorist force. Chavez was optimistic such classification would encourage FAAR leadership to renounce kidnappings and terrorist acts.

However classified, the FARC used violent tactics to control a large portion of Colombia. Kidnapping, murder and drug trafficking became accepted practices for this "political party". Money made from controlling the world's largest supply of cocaine funded purchase of weapons and party activities.

Although the guilty please by Mendieta and Ramirez could carry a life sentence, the US Government made assurances life sentences would not be sought. The minimum sentence under the law is 10 years. The two will likely recieve a lengthy term but will be defined in years instead of life.

While today's plea signals a strong blow to FARC leadership, the organization still remains as a threat to the stable government of Colombia and possible governments of adjacent countries. Only with continued pressure and reform can the organization be forced from control of vast portions of Colombia. Until then, Colombia remains a divided country.

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and JOHN P. GILBRIDE, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's New York Field Division,("DEA"), played a major role in the Mendieta and Ramirez capture and plea.

No comments:

Post a Comment