U.S. offers $10 million reward for capture of Colombian ex-rebels

The United States said on Thursday is it offering rewards of up to $10 million each for information leading to the arrest or conviction of two former leaders of Colombia’s FARC rebel group.

Seuxis Solarte and Luciano Marin, both best known by their respective nom de guerres Jesus Santrich and Ivan Marquez, had originally supported the 2016 peace accord between Colombia’s government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), before later rejecting it.

Both men “have a long history of involvement in drug trafficking activities, which resulted in their criminal indictments,” the State Department said in a statement.

Marquez, one of the negotiators of the peace accord, went missing in 2018 after his nephew was arrested and taken to the United States to cooperate with investigations of drug trafficking.

Santrich had been set to serve in one of 10 congressional seats granted to the former rebels under the deal. But he was indicted by the United States for drug trafficking that allegedly occurred in 2017, after the deal and therefore not subject to transitional justice procedures.

Santrich’s indictment sparked months of legal wrangling, including his arrest, before he disappeared in mid-2019.

Both men reappeared in August 2019 in a video they said was filmed in the Amazon announcing a new offensive against the government.

The announcement was condemned at the time by President Ivan Duque’s government, the United Nations and the FARC political party, whose leadership said the majority of ex-rebels remain committed to peace.

Duque’s government has also offered a reward – of about $800,000 – for information leading to the capture of each of the fighters who appeared in the video.

Implementation of the peace accord has been hampered by the murder of hundreds of former rebels and human rights activists, delays in funding for economic efforts by former combatants and deep political polarization.

Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Dan Grebler