Peru makes record cocaine seizure

By Dialogo
September 01, 2014

Massive seizures of cocaine in Peru and Jamaica and the release on probation
of late drug lord Pablo Escobar’s top hit man highlight the last few days of
drug-related news.
In Peru’s largest seizure in its history, authorities found six tons of
cocaine hidden in a shipment of coal in Trujillo, police said on Aug. 27. The drugs
would have been trafficked to Spain and Belgium, police said.
Nine suspects – seven Peruvians and two Mexicans – were arrested in
connection with the bust.
The interdiction culminated a six-week operation that included cooperation
with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to Vicente Romero, the head
of the Anti-Narcotics Division of Peru’s National Police. The cocaine may belong to
a Mexican drug cartel, he added.
The seizure represents a major step in Peru’s counter-narcotics fight since
the country supplanted Colombia as the world’s leading cocaine-producing
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) 2012
Crop Monitoring Report, Peru is home to 13 regions encompassing 60,400 hectares that
grow coca, which is the main ingredient used to produce cocaine.
Peruvian authorities seized 2,200 metric tons of precursor chemicals bound
for coca-growing regions, Romero said. The confiscated chemicals, combined with the
coca crops that were destroyed, preventing at least 190 metric tons of cocaine from
being produced, according to the National Commission for a Drug-Free Life
Ninety-three percent of the country’s coca crops are used for the drug trade,
with the remaining plants used for traditional consumption and industrial use,
according to DEVIDA.
So far this year, the Peruvian government is more than halfway to reaching
its goal of eradicating 30,000 hectares of illegal coca crops in 2014, according to
“For the first time in several years, Peru is the only country in the Andean
region with exponential eradication rates,” DEVIDA President Alberto Otárola told
the United Nations Economic and Social Council on July 16. “We have managed to
eradicate illegal coca by 17.5% in 2013. DEVIDA’s post-eradication plan seeks to
address the problem from a development perspective on three axes – social inclusion,
government investment and the environment.”

Jamaica seizes 121 kilograms of cocaine

Jamaican security forces also succeeded in counter-narcotics operations.
Jamaican authorities recently seized 121.1 kilograms of cocaine.
Jamaica’s Transnational Crime and Narcotics Division (TCND) and the
Contraband Enforcement Team interdicted the haul during a joint operation at
Kingston Wharves, police said in a prepared statement on Aug. 25. The haul is valued
at $1.29 million (USD).
Authorities found the cocaine in four bags while searching a container that
contained lumber on a ship that had arrived from Suriname and was destined for
Authorities made no arrests in connection with the seizure. Police are asking
anyone with information regarding the cocaine's owner to contact the TCND or
the nearest police station.

Pablo Escobar’s enforcer cooperates with authorities, granted probation

Meanwhile in Colombia, authorities released on probation late drug lord Pablo
Escobar’s top hit man in exchange for his cooperation in the trial of Elberto
John Jairo Velásquez Vásquez, aka Popeye, began four years of probation Aug.
after serving as a witness for the state in the Santofimio trial. Velásquez
Vásquez’s testimony was instrumental in the conviction of Santofimio for the murder
of presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán in 1989.
Galán, whose campaign pledged to bring cartel members brought to justice, was
fatally shot by Escobar's hit men in a public square outside in Soacha in the
department of Cundinamarca, where he was to deliver a speech. He was the favorite to
win the election when he was killed on Aug. 18, 1989.
Santofimo, a former justice minister and Galán’s rival in the election, is
serving a 24-year prison sentence for ordering Galán’s murder.
Velásquez Vásquez, 52, had eight years left on the sentence he received after
being found guilty for murdering presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán in 1989.
After serving as the top hit man for late drug lord Pablo Escobar, he had spent 22
years in prison after confessing to murdering 300 people and coordinating the
slayings of 3,000 others.
Velásquez Vásquez said he also kidnapped former President Andrés Pastrana and
killed his own girlfriend at the behest of Escobar, who led the ruthless Medellin
cartel until his death in December 1993.