BOGOTA -- He calls himself "Cesar," but his real name is Gerardo Aguilar Ramirez. As "comandante" of the 1st Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia -- and one of the top 10 leaders of the hyper-violent FARC -- he has well-earned credentials as a drug-dealing terrorist with a penchant for trading in hostages. This Thursday, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents put Ramirez, aka Cesar, in shackles, marched him aboard an aircraft here in Bogota, and took him to the U.S. to stand trial for his crimes. Our Fox News' "War Stories" team was here to record the event -- and a whole lot more -- so that we can tell the story about the heroes who are waging -- and winning -- the shadowy fight against narco-terror.
That may not be a familiar term to most of us, but narco-terror is nothing new to the 5,300 special agents of the DEA -- or the allies they have made in 63 nations around the world. Here in Colombia, which is the source of half the world's cocaine, FARC thugs, such as Cesar, have made themselves "high-value targets" in the twilight struggle against illegal narcotics and terrorism. When he was arrested July 2, 2008, during a dramatic hostage rescue operation, Cesar was holding 15 hostages; among them were Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three American citizens.
Betancourt was taken hostage by the FARC Feb. 23, 2002, while she was campaigning for the Colombian presidency. The three American civilians were taken hostage Feb. 13, 2003, when their U.S. government drug-surveillance aircraft crash-landed in Colombia's southwestern Caqueta province -- not far from a FARC stronghold. Guerillas quickly surrounded the wrecked plane and proceeded to murder the American pilot, Tom Janis, and a Colombian intelligence specialist, Sgt. Luis Alcides Cruz. The remaining three Americans -- Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell -- were taken hostage and hauled off into the jungle. They were about to endure an absolutely horrific experience.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.