By Dialogo April 06, 2009 The head of the U.S. Southern Command, Admiral James G. Stavridis, considers drug traffickers and terrorists to be innovators and congratulated the Colombian government for “Operation Checkmate,” by which fifteen people were rescued from the hands of the FARC. “The people we are fighting are innovative. They think and do things to improve their work,” said Stavridis, who will shortly leave his position to assume command of NATO in Europe. The U.S. Admiral participated in the conference “Contemporary Antiterrorism, the Colombian Experience” in Bogotá, which approximately 150 experts from five continents also attended. Stavridis said that one of the key points in the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism is monitoring the economic resources these organizations handle. “On many occasions, the trail leading to the criminals is indicated by money,” said Stavridis, who highlighted Colombia’s achievements in its fight against these evils, which intend to spread throughout the world. According to their findings, those who purchase illegal drugs set off car bombs, and that has to be considered, “not only in Colombia, but also in countries such as Afghanistan and others in which there are insurgents.” He added that drug traffickers are increasingly using technology, and mentioned submarines (submersible) which carry cocaine destined for countries in Europe and Central America. He explained that the United States provides, not only Colombia but also other countries, with elements of technology to combat drug trafficking and terrorism; however, “people are more important.” He emphasized the work of the Colombian government and President Álvaro Uribe, who has achieved significant success against the guerrillas and drug trafficking, he said. Also, he congratulated the Colombian authorities for “Operation Checkmate,” which rescued former Presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt from the southern jungle on July 2nd, 2008, along with Americans Thomas Howes, Keith Stansell, and Marc Gonsalves, and 11 soldiers and police officers, all of whom were prisoners of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). “I must say from the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you for rescuing our citizens,” stated the official.