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  • Juan Guaido pictured with known members of Colombian paramilitaries.

    Juan Guaido pictured with known members of Colombian paramilitaries. | Photo: Twitter / @wilcan91

Published 12 September 2019

The group is also involved in the drugs trade and was described by Insight Crime as “one of the most powerful transnational criminal syndicates in Colombia”

A Colombian human rights NGO has reported Thursday that a known paramilitary group, involved in the drugs trade, helped Juan Guaido cross the Venezuelan-Colombian border back in February so that he could attend Richard Branson’s “Venezuela Aid Live” concert in Cucuta.

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Wilfredo Cañizares, director of the Fundación Progresar (a local human rights NGO), told local media that he has evidence that a right-wing paramilitary group, known as ‘Los Rastrojos’ played a key role in helping coordinate the entry of self-declared lawmaker Juan Guaido into Colombia on Feb. 23. 

The group is also involved in the drugs trade and was described by Insight Crime as “one of the most powerful transnational criminal syndicates in Colombia” until their top leadership was captured in 2012. They are now considered to be a somewhat small operation. 

Cañizares published photos on Twitter of Juan Guaido posing for a photo with Jhon Jairo Durán Contreras aka ‘El Menor’ and Albeiro Lobo Quintero aka ‘El Brother’. Both of whom have since been identified by police as known associates of the Rastrojos. 

It’s thought that the group transported Guaido from the border town of Guaramito, to the town of Agua Clara. The NGO relayed reports from locals that the Rastrojos had threatened villagers living along the route, forcing them to stay indoors for 24 hours, during which they transported Guaido.   

Police in Cucuta have confirmed that the two members have now been detained on unrelated charges of homicide, drug smuggling, and illegal possession of firearms. 

Reacting to the revelations, former Colombian presidential candidate Gustavo Petro said via Twitter, “For those in doubt: Duque and Guaido have allied with drug traffickers for their border activity. Mr @jguaido are you aware of who your allies were on the Colombian / Venezuelan border? Mr. Duque, are you going to link your foreign policy with drug trafficking?”

The crossing took place on Feb. 23 in order to help Guaido attend a concert in Cucuta organized by British billionaire Richard Branson.

The concert ‘Venezuela Aid Live’ was organized to pressure the Venezuelan government to allow the entry of U.S. ‘humanitarian aid’. Though, the organization of the concert and the wider ‘aid’ operation has been hit by corruption scandals, in which details emerged of Guaido’s inner circle embezzling large sums that were destined for aid projects.  

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