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

The United States on Thursday said it was 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 Hernandez and Luciano Marin, best known by their respective noms de guerre Jesus Santrich and Ivan Marquez, had originally supported the 2016 peace accord between Colombia’s government and the Marxist-led Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). But both later rejected the deal.

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

The Colombian government, in a separate statement, said the capture of the men would contribute to the stability of the peace process.

Marquez, a FARC commander who was one of the negotiators of the peace accord, disappeared in 2018 after his nephew was arrested and bundled off to the United States.

Santrich had been set to serve in one of 10 congressional seats granted to former rebels under the deal. But he was indicted by the United States for drug trafficking that allegedly occurred in 2017, after the peace deal. The indictment sparked months of legal wrangling, including his arrest, before he too 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 former rebels remain committed to peace.

Implementation of the accord has been hampered by the murder of hundreds of former guerrillas and human rights activists. Delays in funding to create more economic opportunities for former combatants have also set back the peace process amid deep political polarization in the South American country.

Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Dan Grebler and Tom Brown