Colombia Confirms Death Of Rebel Commander
By Dialogo February 26, 2010 Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva confirmed the death of a leftist rebel commander who authorities said headed up the guerrillas’ drug-trafficking activities in the southern part of the country. Angel Gabriel Lozada, alias “Edgar Tovar” – commander of the 48th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrilla group – was killed on Jan. 20 but it was not until Wednesday that he was identified through DNA tests. He had once been chief of security for the FARC’s No. 2, Raul Reyes, who was killed on March 1, 2008 in a Colombian military airstrike on a clandestine rebel camp in Ecuadorian territory. Silva told a press conference in Bogota that Lozada was the FARC’s head of drug trafficking and said he had died in clashes with army troops in a rural area outside Puerto Asis, a city in the southern province of Putumayo. Another eight rebels were also killed by army soldiers in the fighting, which erupted after the bombardment of guerrilla camps. Silva said the slain commander was also the person “who controlled drug-trafficking activities for the FARC” in southern Colombia. “He also operated in Ecuador,” Silva said, adding that “he was a dangerous person” because in addition to cocaine trafficking he provided arms and explosives to other FARC fronts. Last week, the Colombian police released documents indicating that Lozada invested $15,000 in the pyramid scheme headed by David Murcia Guzman, who was extradited to the United States earlier this year to face money-laundering charges. The documents were seized by Colombian authorities at one of the rebel camps. The FARC, founded in 1964, is now thought to have around 8,000 fighters and operates across a large swath of this Andean nation. President Alvaro Uribe’s administration has made fighting the FARC a top priority and has obtained billions of dollars in U.S. aid for counterinsurgency operations.