DIRANDRO: Brazilian organized crime group playing major role in Perú’s cocaine trade
By Dialogo September 12, 2014
A Brazilian organized crime group could be responsible for as much as 60 percent of the cocaine trafficked out of Perú, according to a report by the Anti-Drug Directorate of the National Police of Perú (DIRANDRO) was recently published by La República.
The First Catarinense Group (PGC) is the primary customer of numerous cocaine operations in the Andean Nation’s Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro River Valleys (VRAEM), allegedly acquiring drugs through their connection with Peruvian Fortunato Lagos Lizarbe, according to the report.
The PGC flies cocaine into Brazil using light aircraft that have access to about 52 clandestine landing strips in the VRAEM and nearby areas. The PGC also utilizes land and river routes along the border between Colombia and Brazil, according to the report.
Drug trafficking groups process about 200 tons of cocaine in the VRAEM annually, Peruvian security analyst Rubén Vargas told La República. Drug traffickers transport about 90 percent of that cocaine through the air, he said.
Perú is the world’s leading cocaine-producing country, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Perú is home to 13-coca growing regions, with 60,400 hectares used for cultivating coca – the main ingredient used to make cocaine, according to the UNODC’s annual report, “Perú: Cocaine Cultivation Monitoring 2012.”
Ninety-three percent of coca crops in Perú are used to produce the drug, according to DEVIDA.
From January 1 through August 1 2014, Peruvian authorities destroyed 12,721 hectares of coca plants, officials said. Peruvian authorities’ goal is to eradicate 30,000 hectares of coca in 2014, according to Perú’s National Commission for a Drug-Free Life (DEVIDA).
In 2013, Peruvian security forces authorities eradicated more than 23,947 hectares used for coca cultivation, a significant increase from the 14,234 hectares destroyed in 2012.
Peruvian security forces seized 2,200 metric tons of precursor chemicals destined for coca-growing regions last year, according to Vicente Romero Fernández, head of DIRANDRO.
Successful anti-drug operation in Panamá
In Panamá, Colombian counter-narcotics police, Panamanian security forces and agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently worked together to apprehend Colombian brothers Édgar and Ever Bustamante Riascos, who are suspected by Colombian authorities of trafficking about three tons of cocaine to Costa Rica, according to El Tiempo.
Security forces captured the brothers in Panama City. Colombian authorities suspect they are leaders of the Bustamente crime organization, which uses Colombia’s Pacific coast as a hub for narco-trafficking.
“They are responsible for coordinating shipments of drugs to Central America, in addition to setting up front companies to enter the money into the country,” Colombian police told El Tiempo.
Colombian authorities suspect the two brothers have worked with La Empresa, one of the major gangs in the port city of Buenaventura. La Empresa has been fighting with other drug trafficking groups for control of the drug trade, which has led to an increase in violence in the port region.
In response to the violence, President Juan Manuel Santos in March deployed 2,400 soldiers and officers from the Colombian Army, Navy and National Police to restore safety.
The arrest of the Bustamante Riascos continues to show that Panamá is being used as a transshipment point for narcotics.
Panamanian authorities confiscated 10.2 tons of drugs – mainly cocaine, marijuana and heroin – between January and April. In all of 2013, Panamanian security forces confiscated nearly 44 tons of drugs, according to the National Integrated System for Criminal Statistics.
“Drug trafficking is Panamá’s greatest problem because [it uses the country to transfer] drugs from Colombia toward Honduras before the shipments are sent to the United States and Europe,” Panamanian Minister for Public Security José Raúl Mulino said.
Mulino credited working with partner nations for the strides the Central American nation has made against the narcotics trade.
“We’ve managed to secure the country against drug trafficking,” he added. “This is due in large part to the cooperation strategies we have developed with [Colombia and the United States] for this international fight.”
Mexican Army finds country's first coca plantation
Mexican officials are concerned local traffickers are trying to manufacture cocaine domestically after the Army and police discovered the country’s first coca plantation on September 9.
Security forces destroyed 1,639 coca plants growing on 1,250 square meters of land in the municipality of Tuxtla Chico in the southern state of Chiapas, near the Guatemalan border.
“We have information that this is the first plantation that has been located at a national level of this type of plant,” Sergio Ernesto Martínez Rescalvo, the commander of the 36th Military Zone in Tapachula, told the Mexican newspaper Reforma.
The eradication occurred a week after security agents arrested three suspects in connection with the seizure of coca leaves and plants at a nearby residence.
Los Zetas, the violent Mexican transnational criminal organization, has a strong presence in Chiapas. Los Zetas engages in drug trafficking in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
The presence of coca is alarming to Mexican authorities because the vast majority of cocaine that enters Central America and Mexico is produced in South America, mainly Perú, Colombia and Bolivia.
Good job to the authorities involved in the operation.