QUITO, Ecuador -- Ecuadorean authorities are threatening to kick out an American entrepreneur who offered on an Iraq jobs Web site to supply more than 1,000 "combat experienced" former Colombian soldiers and police for counterinsurgency duty.
Foreign Minister Antonio Parra told reporters Monday that if Jeffrey Shippy was using Ecuador as a base to procure mercenaries, the government should "sanction, close and remove" his business from the country.
Ecuadorean Interior Minister Mauricio Gandara said over the weekend that an investigation of Shippy's business dealings was launched after an article about him was published Friday in the Bogota newspaper El Tiempo.
Shippy's Ecuadorean wife, Martha Canarte, told Channel 4 news late Sunday that her husband was in Iraq and was not planning to return until September.
"The recruitments are being done in Medellin (Colombia). Only the contacts are made here," she said. "Though, not one soldier has been yet been sent."
Canarte could not be reached Monday.
The couple live in the coastal city of Manta, near the Ecuadorean air base that U.S. forces use as an operations center for drug surveillance flights in the region, local media reported.
Shippy, a former employee of the U.S. security contracting firm DynCorp International, was quoted last month by the Los Angeles Times saying that he saw a booming global demand for his "private army," and a lucrative business opportunity in recruiting Colombians.
"We currently have over 1,000 well trained and combat experienced Colombian x-Military Soldiers and Police available," Shippy wrote in his May 25, Web posting on the Iraqi Job Center site.
"These forces have been fighting terrorists the last 41 years and are experts in their prospective fields," he continued. "These troops have been trained by the US Navy Seals and the U.S. DEA to conduct counter-drug/counter-terror ops in the jungles and rivers of Colombia."
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