Photo: FARC Guerilla Beltran Herrera Extradiated
Alexander Beltran Herrera, 35, aka Jhon Alexander Beltrain Herrera, aka Rodrigo Pirinolo, an accused member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), has been extradited from Colombia to face hostage taking and terrorism charges in the United States.
Beltran Herrera was extradited from Colombia to the US over the weekend to face charges in an indictment returned on Feb. 22, 2011. The indictment, which names as defendants 18 members of the FARC, charges Herrera specifically with one count of conspiracy to commit hostage taking; three counts of hostage taking; one count of using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence; one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
If convicted of all the charges against him, he faces a maximum potential sentence of life in prison.
FARC is an armed, violent organization in Colombia, which since its inception in 1964, has engaged in an armed conflict to overthrow the Republic of Colombia, South America’s longest-standing democracy. The FARC has consistently used hostage taking as a primary technique in extorting demands from the Republic of Colombia. Hostage taking has been endorsed and commanded by FARC senior leadership. The FARC has characterized American citizens as “military targets” and has engaged in violent acts against Americans in Colombia, including murders and hostage taking.
The FARC was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. Secretary of State in 1997 and remains so designated.
Beltran Herrera was allegedly involved in the hostage taking of three U.S. citizens, Marc D. Gosalves, Thomas R. Howes and Keith Stansell. These three individuals, along with Thomas Janis, a U.S. citizen, and Sergeant Luis Alcides Cruz, a Colombian citizen, were seized on Feb. 13, 2003, by the FARC after their single engine aircraft made a crash landing near Florencia, Colombia. Janis and Cruz were murdered at the crash site by members of the FARC.
According to the indictment, Gonsalves, Howes and Stansell were held by the FARC at gunpoint and were advised by FARC leadership that they would be used as hostages to increase international pressure on the government of the Republic of Colombia to agree to the FARC’s demands.
Throughout the captivity of these three hostages, FARC jailors and guards, including Beltran Herrera, used choke harnesses, chains, padlocks and wires to restrain the hostages, and used force and threats to continue their detention and prevent their escape. The indictment also accuses Beltran Herrera of using and carrying a military-type machine gun during the hostage taking and providing material support and resources to aid in the hostage taking and to aid the FARC.