Members of Colombian Terror Organization Indicted in New York
Posted: September 30, 2009
Twelve members of a Colombia-based terrorist organization have been indicted in New York for kidnapping an American citizen and procuring weapons and explosives for the group.
Federal authorities in New York unsealed two indictments on September 28, 2009, charging a total of 12 members of Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, with taking a U.S. citizen hostage and conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
One indictment charged seven men, including FARC leaders Luis Fernando Mora-Pestana and Julio Enrique Lemos-Moreno, for their respective roles in the April 2008 kidnapping of an American citizen near Panama City. Mora-Pestana allegedly authorized financing for the kidnapping, which was carried out by defendant Roque Orobio-Lobon, who has since been detained by Colombian authorities, and the other suspects. The American hostage was held until a member of his family paid the ransom demanded by the FARC in February 2009.
The defendants charged in the hostage-taking indictment face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.
The other indictment charged Mora-Pestana, Lemos-Moreno and three FARC associates with conspiracy to provide material support to the terrorist organization. One of the associates, Juanito Cordoba-Bermudez, is in custody in New York, while the other four remain at large.
According to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, the men charged in this indictment procured weapons and explosives and trafficked cocaine to fund FARC's terrorist activities. Authorities also seized a variety of weapons from the men in 2008, according to the indictment.
That same year, Mora-Pestana and Cordoba-Bermudez allegedly discussed kidnapping Panamanian officials in order to exchange them for five other FARC members imprisoned for attacking a Panamanian police patrol boat. Other defendants discussed various plans to engineer the five FARC members' escape from the Panamanian prison.
The indictment further alleged that the men attempted to impede the investigation of the FARC's 2008 kidnapping of the American in Panama. The defendants charged with conspiring to provide material support to FARC face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison if convicted.