Peru Establishes Command to Counter Narcotrafficking, Terrorism in VRAEM
By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo December 07, 2020
The Peruvian government has taken a new step toward pacifying the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers Valley (VRAEM, in Spanish), by creating a command combining the Peruvian Armed Forces and the National Police (PNP, in Spanish) to respond to narcotrafficking and terrorism in the vast region, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
On October 9, 2020, military and police authorities held the first meeting of the integrated command at the VRAEM Special Command’s headquarters in Cuzco. The integrated strategy seeks to strengthen the fight against narcoterrorism, eradicate coca crops, and bring stability to the region.
Peruvian Army General (ret.) Jorge Chávez, minister of Defense, said on the Ministry’s official website that the operational force supports police intelligence in the VRAEM to carry out successful operations.
“This way, we will achieve greater joint participation […], enabling us to firmly fight the scourge of narcotrafficking and the remnants of terrorists in the VRAEM,” Peruvian Minister of the Interior César A. Gentille told the newspaper El Peruano on October 9.
The military-police partnership delivered results on October 14, upon capturing two criminals who were carrying 421 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride, medium and heavy weapons, and ammunition in the Ayacucho region. The drug was destined for Iñapari, on the border with Brazil, the Peruvian newspaper La República reported.
In another operation, the Peruvian news agency Andina reported on October 12 that patrols of the Armed Forces and the PNP had found two clandestine landing airstrips in Alto Pichas and Bajo Pichas, in the Cuzco region, where authorities seized small arms, assault rifles, hand grenades, ammunition, satellite phones, and other communication equipment.
“How many clandestine landing airstrips have we neutralized? So far [October 14, 2020], we’ve neutralized 70,” Gen. Chávez told the Peruvian television show Cara a Cara. “We expect greater effectiveness in the coming days,” he added.
During the integrated command’s first meeting, the ministers toured the Counterterrorist Base in Valle de Alto Anapati, where the Armed Forces provide security for coca leaf eradication tasks, in coordination with the PNP and the special project Control and Reduction of Coca Crops in Alto Huallaga (CORAH, in Spanish), an agreement between the Peruvian and U.S. governments to reduce illegal coca-growing areas and prevent illicit drug production and trafficking, the Ministry of Defense indicated on its website.