A significant security operation is ongoing in Nariño department as of Monday, September 17, to find the leader of a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissident group. According to the Colombian Ministry of Defense, Walter Patricio Arizala, also known as "Guacho," was wounded by a sniper near Tumaco. Around 3000 soldiers from Colombia and Ecuador are searching for Guacho in an effort to kill or capture him. Heavy fighting between security forces and Guacho's men was reported in Tumaco and the rural Roberto Payán area. Additional clashes are possible in the coming days as operations to find Guacho continue.
Guacho is the leader of the “Oliver Sinisterra Front” (FOS), a FARC dissident group that operates in southwestern Colombia. He is wanted in both Colombia and Ecuador for drug trafficking in the region. Both countries also accused Guacho of ordering the kidnapping and murder of five Ecuadorian citizens, including three journalists, earlier this year.
A peace deal between FARC leadership and the Colombian government was ratified by the Colombian congress in November 2016, officially ending an armed conflict that killed more than 260,000 people over five decades. However, some dissident ex-FARC militants remain active, notably in the Colombian-Ecuadorian border region.
Individuals in or planning travel to Colombia are advised to keep abreast of the situation. Due to the presence of a number of armed groups - including drug cartels, right-wing militias, local gangs, and the ELN guerrilla group in addition to ex-FARC dissidents - Western governments generally advise against travel to various regions of the country, most notably most border areas on the frontiers with Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, and Panama.
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