LIMA, Peru – Peru’s counter-narcotics enforcement agency, the Anti-drugs Directorate of the National Police (DIRANDRO), seeks to increase drug busts nationwide, curtail narco-terrorism operations and continue to eradicate illegal fields of coca leaves.
Gen. Carlos Morán Soto, head of the counter-narcotics agency, said stopping terrorist groups that fund narcotics producers, including the notorious Shining Path, is paramount to winning the fight against narcotics trafficking.
“By cutting off the financing terrorists give to drug producers in areas such as the valleys of the Apurímac and Ene rivers, we can facilitate a governmental presence with interdiction (controlling the supply of chemicals) and eradication efforts,” Morán Soto said. “This is a way to avoid an armed response by the narco-terrorists.”
So far, DIRANDRO has had a stellar year.
DIRANDRO seized 19,565 kilograms (43,133 pounds) of marijuana plants, 2,657 kilograms (5,857 pounds) of unprocessed coca leaves and 315,175 kilograms (694,841 pounds) of processed cocaine from Jan. 1 through April 10.
During the same time frame, the organization also seized 2,155 kilograms (4,750 pounds) of cocaine base and 841 kilograms (1,854 pounds) of marijuana. DIRANDRO also destroyed 1,639 hectares (4,050 acres) of illegal crops.
In 2009, Peru represented 38% of all global cultivation of coca, trailing only Colombia (43%). Bolivia was third with 19%, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) World Drug Report 2010. Coca is the main ingredient in the manufacturing of cocaine.
While Colombian narco-traffickers have manufactured most of the world’s cocaine in past years, the area under coca cultivation in Colombia decreased by 58%, mainly because of increased eradication efforts from 2000 to 2009.
But coca cultivation increased by 38% in Peru and 112% in Bolivia during the same period, when narco-traffickers in both countries increased their capacities to manufacture larger amounts of cocaine, according to the World Drug Report 2010.
In 2009, coca cultivation in Peru increased by 7% from 2008 and reached 59,900 hectares (148,016 acres), representing a 55% increase in hectares since 1999, when 38,700 hectares (95,629 acres) were used to grow coca, according to the World Drug Report 2010.
Morán Soto said DIRANDRO has an annual budget of close to US$6.7 million – 25% more than it had in 2010 – to fight narcotics trafficking, Morán Soto said.
DIRANDRO also has increased its personnel.
“We now have a staff of 10,000, which is 20% higher than last year,” Morán Soto said.
Capturing narco-terrorists is a high priority for DIRANDRO, according to Morán Soto.
“The main objective is to trap or bring down the Shining Path terrorist leaders ‘Artemio’ and ‘José’,” said Morán Soto, adding that there is a reward of US$5 million for their captures.
“Cocaine trafficking constitutes a major security threat, financing organized crime and insurgencies in a number of countries, including the FARC in Colombia and the Shining Path in Peru,” according to the World Drug Report 2010.
In collaboration with other counter-narcotics agencies throughout the Andean region, DIRANDRO wants to develop a protocol for the interdiction of chemical substances used to produce narcotics.
“For example, the sale of kerosene has been banned,” Morán Soto said. “But now, [narcotics producers] are making drugs with airplane fuel. Calcium oxide also is being controlled, but they use cement, which is not regulated.”
DIRANDRO has increased the amount of mail it inspects.
In different operations, the agency found a total of 5.9 kilograms (13 pounds) of cocaine hidden in packages sent through a private shipping service and destined for Spain, China, England, Holland and Brazil.
The Impact of Drugs on Peru
About 300,000 addicts reside in Peru, according to the Center for Information and Education for the Prevention of Drug Abuse (CEDRO).
In Peru, between 60,000 and 100,000 are addicted to drugs such as cocaine hydrochloride and cocaine base; between 120,000 and 150,000 smoke marijuana; and between 3,000 to 5,000 use synthetic drugs such as ecstasy and amphetamines.