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11/18/02 - U.S. INDICTS FARC LEADERS - 2002-11-19

Attorney General John Ashcroft announced "another significant milestone in the war against terrorism and drug trafficking in the Americas." The United States has indicted several members of the so-called Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, terrorist group for murder, kidnapping, and trading illegal drugs for weapons.

One of these terrorist-drug traffickers, Carlos Bolas, is already in U.S. custody. The U.S. is working with Colombian authorities to secure the arrest of FARC leader Jorge Briceno Suarez and one of his subordinates, Tomas Molina Caracas. They and others are charged with killing two Colombian citizens while kidnapping two Americans. Jerel Duane Shaffer and Earl Goen were working for American companies in Venezuela when they were captured, bound, and blindfolded by FARC terrorists. Goen was later released. Shaffer was taken to Colombia. He was beaten and mistreated for nine months until a million-dollar ransom was paid for his release.

Caracas, Suarez, and other FARC members are also wanted for trafficking cocaine into the U.S. and exchanging cocaine for weapons and other material used by FARC terrorists. Areas of Colombia controlled by FARC provide safe haven to international drug traffickers.

The U.S. is also seeking the arrest of FARC terrorist Henry Castellanos Garzon for his part in the kidnapping of four Americans in March 1998. Louise Augustine, Todd Mark, Thomas Fiore, and Peter Shen were on a bird-watching trip in Colombia when they were abducted by Castellanos. He threatened the hostages with death and interrogated them regarding the financial status of their families. The captives were later released without ransom.

"The State Department has called FARC the most dangerous international terrorist organization based in the Western hemisphere," said Attorney General Ashcroft. "Our indictments show them as terrorists, drug traffickers, kidnappers, and murderers." Like other terrorists, Jorge Briceno Suarez and Tomas Molina Caracas will be brought to justice.

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