QUESTIONS FOR CEPEDA: Was there any contact with the FARC before Operation Fenix?

FARC Supreme Commander Raul Reyes, whose computer revealed alleged internal conversations about Senator Ivan Cepeda, was killed in Operation Fenix. | Photo: Semana

7.  Did you ever communicate, directly or indirectly, with any representatives, members or leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) over the period of 1999 to 2008 for any purposes, when according to material evidence before a U.S. court leaders of the FARC that included your close associates Jesus Santrich and Iván Márquez were engaged in international criminal conspiracies against the democratic government of Colombia?

This question can be simplified for Iván Cepeda: did you have any contact with the FARC before the decisive 2008 military raid on their guerrilla headquarters?  It is important to know if Cepeda had any communications with the FARC – directly or indirectly – during this crucial period for U.S. prosecutors.

Why is this so important?  Let’s first look at direct quotes from federal indictments issued by U.S. federal grand juries in the Southern District of New York, describing the material evidence they had been shown.

There are the words of U.S. prosecutors:

  • Starting in 1999, “the FARC became one of the largest producers of cocaine in the world” and have illegally trafficked cocaine to the United States to the present day.  The details of their operations are extensively documented by U.S. prosecutors.
  • The FARC’s cocaine trafficking financed terrorist activities, including “violent acts against United States nationals,” including the kidnapping and murder of U.S. citizens. 
  • The FARC remains listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department to the present day. 
  • In 2003, material evidence shows a payment made by an associate of the Cartel de los Soles to FARC commander Jesus Santrich of $300,000 to set up a cocaine production site in Venezuela to be run by the FARC. 
  • In 2006, FARC commander Iván Marquez was first indicted by the U.S. Southern District of New York for cocaine trafficking on behalf of the FARC’s massive operation.  In 2008, Marquez coordinated financing from the Venezuelan state oil company PdVSA to provide support to the FARC’s narco-terrorist operations.  Venezuelan state support to the FARC included military grade weapons, including machine guns, ammunition, rocket launchers, and explosives.
  • The partnership between the Cartel de los Soles and the FARC was intended “to “flood” the United States with cocaine and inflict the drug’s harmful and addictive effects on users in this country” while also financing the FARC’s terrorist objectives in Colombia.

On March 1, 2008, there was a turning point.  The democratic government of Colombia launched, through its military, a raid on the FARC’s headquarters in the border region of Ecuador, code named “Operation Fenix”.  FARC supreme commander Raúl Reyes was killed in the fighting, and the command post was seized.  Computer hard drives containing a stockpile of emails and digital files from FARC high command were also seized and handed over to Interpol for analysis by the Colombian government.

On May 15, 2008, Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble announced the following:

“INTERPOL’s team of forensic experts discovered “no evidence of modification, alteration, addition or deletion” in the user files of any of the three laptop computers, three USB thumb drives and two external hard disks seized during a Colombian anti-narcotics and anti-terrorist operation on a FARC camp on 1 March 2008.

Based on INTERPOL’s careful and comprehensive forensic examination of each of the eight seized FARC computer exhibits and on consideration of all the evidence reviewed by our experts, INTERPOL concludes that there was no tampering with any data on the computer exhibits following their seizure on 1 March 2008 by Colombian authorities.”

Colombian media has reported and published documents allegedly from the cache of files seized in Operation Fenix, which indicate that in the days leading up to the March 1, 2008, raid, senior FARC commander Ivan Marquez was in communication with Ivan Cepeda and coordinating political activity in the streets of Colombia in defense of the FARC.  No actual communications with Cepeda are shown, but several discussions of that contact between FARC leaders is shown.  Cepeda was allegedly not copied on those communications.

Cepeda has denied that the communications exist as reported.  It’s unclear how he could know that with certainty given that none of them appear to have included him.  But his denial is oddly specific, and Cepeda has never denied being in contact with the FARC before those files were seized.

This is where Cepeda could possibly put all of this doubt away in a single response.  Did he have ANY contact with the FARC before March 1, 2008?  If the answer is “no”, that might settle everything.

If Cepeda continues to refuse to answer this simple question, then U.S. authorities should inevitably wonder what he is hiding.