Venezuelan authorities arrested five suspected members of the Colombian criminal gang Los Rastrojos in the border state of Táchira, heiress of the paramilitary groups, the ruling official Freddy Bernal reported Thursday, who reported that the detainees were seized with ammunition and explosives.
Bernal, who by presidential appointment commands the custody of that Venezuelan region, said that members of the Armed Forces (FANB) and Special Forces (FAES) of the National Police (GNP) of Venezuela participated in the operation.
“Within the framework of Operation Sentinel, in the Pueblo Nuevo sector of the San Cristóbal Municipality (in the border state of Táchira), we have captured five Colombian paramilitaries from the Los Rastrojos criminal gang, who have been seized ammunition, uniforms, explosives and strategic material, “Bernal said in his Twitter account.
The official Twitter account of the Strategic Integral Defense Region (REDI) of the Andean region of the FANB confirmed the capture of the five subjects and in addition to the images of the retained material and military garments, included a photograph of three men lying in the floor.
In his messages on Twitter, Bernal shared photographs of the material allegedly seized in the operation and where you can see packages, backpacks with military camouflage and cables, among other unidentified elements.
Bernal said the capture took place thanks to “the battle without quarter” which, he said, the Venezuelan authorities are fighting to “guarantee security and well-being” in Táchira.
During 2019, Bernal reported on his Twitter account several joint operations of Venezuelan military and police in the border region with Colombia in which more than fifty people identified as paramilitaries were captured or “discharged”.
On December 26, Venezuelan authorities reported that they “discharged” five members of the Colombian criminal gang “Los Rastrojos” in Táchira, although it was not detailed whether those five people died in the operation or were arrested.
While in August, Bernal also reported the capture of 49 Colombian paramilitaries in the Tachira region and warned that Venezuelan authorities “have taken significant blows” against “organized crime” in the border area.
Then, he said that the bands present in the Colombian-Venezuelan border are “Los Rastrojos, Los Urabeños, the so-called Gaitanas Self-Defense Groups, the Line and the Gulf of Escobar Cartel”, and also accused the Colombian Army and the Colombian National Police of “protect” those armed groups.
Venezuela and Colombia share a porous border of 2,219 kilometers in which there is a strong smuggling activity of all kinds of products.
In addition, it is a frequent scene of fighting between the various actors in the Colombian armed conflict that sometimes cross the border.