Faouzi Jaber, a 61-year-old Ivorian citizen, pleaded guilty this week in a case involving smuggling arms and drugs to Colombia’s FARC group. But the undercover tactics by U.S. agents raise questions about future drug-war strategies in Colombia.
The case involving Faouzi Jaber, a 61-year-old Ivorian citizen known by the alias “Excellence,” raises questions about the handling of similar operations in the future in light of the FARC‘s ongoing demobilization.
Jaber pleaded guilty on July 25 to conspiring to traffic arms and drugs in support of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) insurgency, which the United States considers a terrorist organization.
According to a press release from the U.S. prosecutor’s office, Jaber met multiple times with confidential sources working for the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who were posing as members of the FARC.
In those meetings, Jaber introduced the confidential sources to drug and arms traffickers, and promised to help the guerrilla group obtain weapons, smuggle drugs in Africa and launder money.
Jaber was arrested in April 2014 by local authorities in the Czech Republic acting on a US request for his capture and extradition.
Jaber is not the first international arms trafficker brought down by DEA operatives pretending to be members of the FARC.
Perhaps the most infamous example is the 2008 arrest in Thailand of Viktor Bout, the so-called “Merchant of Death” who was later convicted in the United States of conspiring to sell arms to DEA sources posing as FARC fighters.
More recently, a Romanian-born man named Flaviu Georgescu was convicted in the United States of participating in a weapons trafficking conspiracy following a similar set-up.
Although the tactic of posing as the FARC has helped the DEA capture a number of suspected international criminals, the agency will almost certainly have to find a new group to impersonate in these types of stings. The FARC, one of the world’s oldest and most famous guerrilla groups, signed a peace deal with the Colombian government last year and recently handed over its weapons to the United Nations.
However, the fact that the FARC is now effectively defunct as a guerrilla organization does not mean that the DEA will stop using confidential sources posing as criminals to execute sting operations.
In fact, this tactic—which has been criticized as a form of entrapment— has become a staple of the DEA’s pursuit of so-called “narco-terrorism” cases in Latin America and abroad.
Mike LaSusa is editor of InSight Crime. The Crime Report is pleased to publish this story in collaboration with InSight Crime. For the complete version, including related links, please click here. Readers’ comments are welcomed.