Nestor Gregorio Vera Fernández, alias “Iván Mordisco,” is one of the most important commanders of the ex-FARC mafia in Colombia, leading the largest dissident faction, the Central General Staff (Estado Mayor Central – EMC).

Prior to the 2016 peace deal between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC), he served as commander of the guerrilla group’s 1st Front. In June of that year, he became the first commander to abandon the peace process, garnering significant influence among other dissidents. Mordisco still commands the dissident ex-FARC mafia’s 1st Front, made up of approximately 400 members. The group is present in the departments of Guaviare, Vaupés, Meta, and Vichada, and has also established a significant presence inside Venezuela, especially near the Colombian border.

History

Iván Mordisco began his criminal activities upon joining the FARC in the late 1990s. He began as a foot soldier, but quickly specialized as a sniper and explosives expert within the Armando Ríos Front in the central department of Guaviare.

Mordisco’s rise within the FARC began in 2008, when he temporarily served as commander of the 1st Front due to the capture of its leader Gerardo Aguilar, alias “Cesar.” In 2009, Marco Fidel Suárez, alias “Kokoriko,” took control of the front, and Mordisco became the head of the 1st Front’s “public order operations” in the departments of Guaviare and neighboring Vaupés. Until 2012, when the FARC began peace negotiations with the government, he focused on recruitment and protecting illicit crops in both departments before becoming commander of the 1st Front.

In 2015, Mordisco was briefly captured by the Colombian army. However, the guerrilla commander was quickly released, amid unclear circumstances.

By 2016, it was clear that Mordisco did not support the peace process. He solidified his stance by sending a letter to the FARC negotiating team, making it clear that the 1st Front would not demobilize. Additionally, he invited all “guerrillas and militia members” who did not agree with the peace process to “continue the insurgent struggle.” These statements made him the first senior FARC leader to dissent.

Following the death of fellow FARC leader Miguel Botache Santillana, alias “Gentil Duarte,” in Venezuela in May 2022, Iván Mordisco assumed the leadership of dissident fronts formerly under Duarte’s command.

In July 2022, the Colombian government claimed it had killed Mordisco in a bombing of a FARC dissident camp. But Mordisco reappeared in a video released in October 2022, saying he was still alive and the political aims of the FARC had not changed.

In 2023, Mordisco and the EMC decided to take part in President Gustavo Petro’s Total Peace policy, which seeks to disarm the country’s main armed groups. Despite signing a second ceasefire in October 2023, the talks have been plagued with obstacles.

Criminal Activity

Mordisco is reputed for being a particularly violent leader, with disdain for civilian populations. As commander of the 1st Front since 2012, Mordisco was behind crimes such as the extortion of tradesmen, farmers, and other rural inhabitants, as well as illegal mining. Colombian authorities also accused him of recruiting child soldiers.

Mordisco controls and has increased the EMC’s illicit coca crop cultivation and cocaine production, profiting off drug corridors for the through Guaviare, Vaupés, Vichada, and the south of Meta. The 1st Front has also opened drug trafficking routes through northern Amazonas, around Puerto Córdoba and La Pedrera, where the Apaporis and Caquetá rivers provide a route to Brazil.

Geography

Mordisco is believed to be based in the Colombian department of Guaviare, particularly around the municipalities of Calamar, Miraflores, and San José del Guaviare. His most important area of control is the Barranquillita area of Miraflores.

He also controls territory along the Guaviare river, close to the villages of En Charras, Puerto Alegre, Barranco Colorado, Puerto Alvira, and Mocuare. 

The EMC has also established a significant presence inside Venezuela, especially near the Colombian border. 

Allies and Enemies

Mordisco’s closest alliance was with Gentil Duarte, who commanded the 7th Front until his death in Venezuela in 2022, and led an effort to reunite FARC dissidents across Colombia into a unified fighting structure. Mordisco is now reportedly in command of the project begun by Duarte, which includes several ex-FARC groups in the departments of Cauca, Nariño, Putumayo, Norte de Santander, and Arauca, among others.

Mordisco and his allies are now in open conflict with another faction of the ex-FARC mafia, the Second Marquetalia, led by influential commander Luciano Marín Arango, alias “Iván Márquez.” The 1st Front has reportedly engaged in regular clashes with forces of the Second Marquetalia.

It is believed Mordisco may have been behind the May 2021 killing of a top Second Marquetalia leader, Seuxis Pausías Hernández Solarte, alias “Jesús Santrich,” in Venezuela. Mordisco was even rumored to have ordered an attack against Iván Márquez in June 2022 in Venezuela.

However, both Mordisco’s faction and the Second Marquetalia were weakened by authorities in 2022, with the deaths of so many ex-FARC mafia commanders in quick succession. 

Prospects

Iván Mordisco is the most important leader of the ex-FARC mafia in Colombia and Venezuela.

Though Mordisco was the natural successor to lead large parts of the ex-FARC mafia, he is known for having a difficult and conflicting personality. He is unlikely to succeed in furthering plans to reunite all ex-FARC factions.

Even though the ongoing Total Peace negotiations have achieved several milestones such as reaching a cease fire agreement with the Colombian government, the peace process has encountered multiple setbacks and its future, as well as Mordisco’s, remains uncertain.

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