By Dialogo July 18, 2012 On July 16, in an operation in the southern part of the country, the Colombian authorities arrested one of the individuals allegedly responsible for the kidnappings of Colombian-French former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and police General Luis Mendieta, the Public Prosecutor’s Office announced. According to the announcement, units of the Technical Investigative Corps (CTI), with Army support, in the hamlet of El Retorno, in the department of Caquetá (in southern Colombia), arrested Marco Patiño, alias ‘Efren’ or ‘Patequeso,’ suspected of “maintaining in captivity” Betancourt and another group of people, including Mendieta. According to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Patiño “had ties to the FARC (guerrilla group) for 31 years, was the second-ranking leader of Front 55, and was part of the attacks” on the towns of Mitú, the capital of the department of Vaupés, and Miraflores, in Guaviare (in southwestern Colombia), perpetrated in 1998. Betancourt was kidnapped in 2002 and freed in July 2008 in a Military operation that succeeded in rescuing 14 other people in addition to the politician, including 3 U.S. advisors and 11 Military personnel, without a single shot fired. For his part, Mendieta, kidnapped when Mitú was taken in 1998, also succeeded in recovering his freedom following an Army operation in June 2010 that enabled the liberation of three other members of Government forces. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is Colombia’s leading guerrilla group, with almost half a century of armed struggle and around 9,200 fighters.