Authorities in Colombia have discovered that the son of a prominent guerrilla is enlisted in the country’s armed forces, creating a potentially grave breach of military security.
On June 26, Colombian authorities announced that the 18-year-old son of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) leader Miguel Botache Santillana, aka “Gentil Duarte,” had been serving as a private in the Colombian army. The young soldier, who has not been identified, had been stationed in a battalion based in Yopal, the capital city of the eastern department of Casanare.
His father is the leader of the FARC’s 7th Front, which operates mainly in the central department of Meta. His mother is Astrid Conde Gutierrez, aka “Nancy,” also a FARC operative.
Authorities began to investigate the son following the capture of his guerrilla mother. She was recently detained outside of Bogota in connection to her work for the FARC.
Officials are now investigating whether the son sent any key information to the guerrillas during his time with the army, as investigators discovered an exchange of text messages with Gutierrez that might reveal a sharing of intelligence.
It is not clear how long the guerrillas’ son had been serving in the army before the investigation began.
The private has been suspended pending further investigation.
InSight Crime Analysis
Although there have been cases of criminal syndicates infiltrating Colombian security forces in the past, there are fewer reported incidents involving the FARC. In 2007, then-Minister of Defense Juan Manuel Santos confirmed that drug trafficking groups and FARC members had infiltrated relatively high levels of the army. In the case of the guerrillas, their operatives were reported to work within the army intelligence, passing on information of army movements to their comrades.
The investigation of the guerrillas’ son indicates that this infiltration by the FARC has continued to some extent. However, it seems doubtful that such a young soldier would have access to critical intelligence, mitigating some fear of a complete breach of army security.
The greater concern involves the soldier’s ability to enter the army undetected, despite his close relationship to FARC leaders. This incident reveals the importance of proper screening methods for potential army recruits to prevent similar infiltration attempts.