Possible murder of drug trafficker raises tensions at Venezuela border

One of the most important leaders of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) dissidents, Jesús Santrich, may have been killed on Venezuelan territory during a clash between criminal factions. The information was transmitted by sources from the Nicolás Maduro regime to the Colombian press, but has not yet been officially confirmed.

Santrich was a fugitive from Colombian and American justice, accused of drug trafficking. In 2016, he joined the leaders who negotiated the peace deal with the Colombian state – soon after, however, he again committed crimes and was kicked out of the group. As a result, he lost the right to be tried by the special justice of the peace (JEP, only for ex-combatants who left the organization).

If confirmed, Santrich’s death puts even more tension in the border region between the two countries, which has seen clashes with civilians killed a few weeks ago. Colombia accuses the Maduro regime of welcoming criminals, guerrillas and dissidents into its territory. The dictator denies and claims that the presence of illegal groups in Venezuela is not a policy of his state, but an infiltration ordered by the United States and led by the Colombian President, Iván Duque, to destabilize the regime.

This Tuesday afternoon (18), Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano declared that “if this fact is confirmed, it will be proven that Venezuela has given refuge to narcotics”. The Venezuelan regime, for its part, has yet to comment.

Last week, the Colombian Supreme Court of Justice authorized Santrich’s extradition to the United States, so that he could be tried in a New York court.

According to the information available, Santrich was killed in a camp with members of his new group, Segunda Marquetalia (reference to the name of the place where the guerrillas were born in 1964).

There are also rumors that instead of being murdered by another criminal group, Santrich was shot dead by the Venezuelan military itself, which is carrying out actions in the area.

A recent report by the NGO Human Rights Watch even denounces that the Venezuelan security forces are committing human rights violations and extrajudicial killings in the region.

According to the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, helicopters from the Venezuelan army flew on Sunday (16) in the region where Santrich is said to be camped.

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