By Dialogo February 23, 2011 In fulfillment of the state’s comprehensive offensive against criminal gangs, the National Police, in coordination with the Attorney-General’s Office and the Armed Forces, arrested ninety-five members of those structures during the second week of February, twenty of whom were detained in the department of Córdoba, as part of Operation Troy, launched by Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera Salazar on 5 February. Most noteworthy are the arrests of Víctor Hinestrosa Mena, alias ‘Blanquito’ [‘Little White One’], Cristian David Bravo Núñez, alias ‘Cristian,’ and Rafael Antonio Grandeth Serpa, alias ‘El Flaco’ [‘The Thin One’], linked to the investigation into the killings of the students Mateo Matamala Neme and Margarita Gómez Gómez, murdered on 10 January in the jurisdiction of San Bernardo del Viento. Since 18 February, the Colombian National Police has carried out two simultaneous operations in Buenavista and Montelíbano, where eight members of ‘Los Urabeños’ were detained who were involved in several of the most recent homicides in that region of the country, and from whom seven firearms, two fragmentation grenades, and forty-one ammunition cartridges were seized. In the course of this offensive, two significant blows stand out against the ‘Los Rastrojos’ [‘Stubble’] gang, whose leaders Jader Luis Blanquicet Julio, alias ‘Urabá,’ and Jorge Armando Rodríguez, alias ‘Pantera’ [‘Panther’], both active in the department of El Cauca, were brought before the courts on charges of homicide, forced displacement, kidnapping, extortion, illegal weapons possession, and criminal conspiracy. During the operations, carried out in ten departments in the country, the police arrested thirty-eight members of ‘Los Urabeños,’ thirty-three members of ‘Los Paisas’ (all belonging to the groups associated with the ‘Envigado Office’), nineteen members of ‘Los Rastrojos,’ four members of the ‘Renacer’ [‘Rebirth’] criminal gang, and one member of the self-proclaimed ‘Anticommunist Popular Army’ (ERPAC). As a result of these actions, according to National Police reports, 65 firearms, 655 ammunition cartridges of various calibers, eight fragmentation grenades, three sticks of the explosive Indugel, four firing tubes, 90 kilograms of narcotics, 203 kilograms of precursor chemicals for processing alkaloids, and 228 gallons of liquid raw materials were seized.
By Nelza Oliveira/Diálogo February 21, 2019 Following his February 11 visit to Brasília, U.S. Navy Admiral Craig S. Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), continued on to Rio de Janeiro the next day to strengthen security cooperation ties between both countries. Adm. Faller met with Brazilian Army (EB, in Portuguese) General Edson Leal Pujol, commander of the Army’s Military Area Command, and visited the EB Paratrooper Infantry Brigade (Bda Inf Pqdt, in Portuguese), the Multipurpose Helicopter Carrier Atlântico, and the Submarine Naval Base at the Itaguaí Complex. Adm. Faller and Brazilian civilian and military leaders addressed cooperation and the progress of bilateral partnerships on defense and security in support of regional peace and the stability of the Western Hemisphere. “In Rio de Janeiro, the commander of U.S. Southern Command, Adm. Faller, continued to familiarize himself with the capabilities of the Brazilian Armed Forces for combined work with SOUTHCOM,” said Brazilian Navy Rear Admiral Guilherme da Silva Costa, deputy director of International Affairs at the Ministry of Defense (MD, in Portuguese). U.S. Ambassador Liliana Ayalde, civilian deputy to the commander at SOUTHCOM; U.S. Air Force Major General Andrew Croft, Air Forces Southern commander; U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Major Bryan Zickefoose, SOUTHCOM’s command sergeant major; MD Brazilian Navy Captain José Maria de Lima Sobrinho, as well as other officials, joined Adm. Faller as part of his delegation. “He visited the Paratrooper [Infantry] Brigade, which is an important driver; the Multipurpose Helicopter Carrier Atlântico, an excellent platform for various operations in the South Atlantic; and the Itaguaí Complex, currently one of the main national defense projects in South America,” said Rear Adm. Guilherme. At Bda Inf Pqdt, the U.S. delegation attended an institutional lecture from EB Major General Pedro Celso Coelho Montenegro, Bda Inf Pqdt commander, focused on the brigade’s organization and training of the air-ground units for Operation Culminating, involving joint maneuvers among the Brazilian and the U.S. armies from 2017 to 2020. Operation Culminating will end with a combined exercise in Fort Polk, Louisiana. “The history of Brazilian military parachuting began in Fort Benning, in the United States,” Maj. Gen. Montenegro said. “The meeting was an opportunity for Bda Inf Pqdt to memorialize the historical ties formed since the 1945 creation of the Parachute School, and to strengthen the existing friendship and integration with the U.S. Army.” Adm. Faller attended various field demonstrations, including water jump techniques and procedures, and visited military materials and equipment stations. “For Bda Inf Pqdt, it was an opportunity to display the worth and professional skills of my squadron, showing a military leader of a friendly nation the air-ground beliefs, values, and mystique,” said Maj. Gen. Montenegro. Brazilian major general at U.S. Army South Adm. Faller’s visit to Rio came days after the news of the nomination of a Brazilian major general as U.S. Army South’s deputy commander for interoperability. Adm. Faller made the announcement on February 7 during his posture statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In his statement, Adm. Faller highlighted Colombia, Brazil, and Chile as partners for a regional and global security strategy, and declared that “Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua and a system of interrelated threats “challenge the security of our partners and the region.” The officer added that “addressing these challenges requires whole-of-government efforts led by partner nations at a pace they can sustain, to strengthen democratic institutions and expand economic opportunity. Often, improving security is the first step.” According to Adm. Faller’s statement, the Brazilian Armed Forces will join the U.S. Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF) in 2019. SPMAGTF operates in crisis situations that require humanitarian aid and disaster response. Brazil will also lead the multinational naval exercise UNITAS Amphibious 2018/2019, scheduled for August 2019. The United States conducts the annual combined exercise with other Latin American navies. Brazil and the United States are the two most populous democracies in the Western Hemisphere. The partners maintain an increasingly close bilateral relationship in the defense arena, including specific fields such as research and development, information, training and academic exchanges, joint military exercises, and commercial initiatives related to defense matters. “The visit left a positive impression. The meeting was an excellent opportunity to reinforce trust and cooperation ties between Brazil and the United States, in the context of diplomacy,” Maj. Gen. Montenegro said.