BOGOTA – Colombian authorities arrested five National Liberation Army, or ELN, guerrillas who were deported by the Venezuelan immigration service, the DAS intelligence agency said.
One of the guerrillas is the military and finance chief of the ELN’s Northern War Front, the DAS said, adding that the five suspects were handed over to the Attorney General’s Office in Riohacha, the capital of La Guajira province, which is on the border with Venezuela.
The three men and two women have been charged with rebellion and other crimes.
The rebels were detained by immigration agents in Venezuela because they were in that country in an “irregular status” and were wearing “clothing that is for the exclusive use of the military forces of Colombia,” the DAS said.
DAS agents in La Guajira arrested the five guerrillas after they were deported on Sunday.
The suspects were identified as ELN members even though they were using fake names, the DAS said.
Carlos Emiro Bustamante Rincon was the most important rebel arrested, the DAS said, noting that he was “in charge of the armed and financial structure” of the ELN’s Northern War Front.
The other guerrillas arrested were identified as Diego Armando Perez Medina, Yordilis Yaneth Fernandez, Benjamin Teran Mendoza and Gregoria Monterrosa Alvarez.
The ELN has waged a four-decade insurgency against a succession of Colombian governments.
Several attempts to negotiate peace with the group in the 1990s and earlier this decade broke down after weeks or months of talks.
The most recent peace process between the ELN, which has 5,000 fighters and was founded in 1964, and the government started in 2005 and was suspended in August 2007 due to differences over various issues.