Peruvian security forces neutralized 15 Shining Path (SL) terrorists, seized weapons, and dismantled the group’s communications system as part of Operation Patriot, Peruvian Army General Manuel Gómez de la Torre, head of the Armed Forces’ Joint Command, told the press.
The operation in the Vizcatán area of the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers Valley (VRAEM) was carried out in the second half of August with more than 150 military and police officers. Authorities entered territories occupied by a group led by terrorist Víctor Quispe Palomino, alias José, who was wounded during the clashes and is among the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) most wanted criminals.
“Operation Patriot without a doubt weakened and dismantled the SL group in the VRAEM, which was shown in their desperate call emitted through radio communications during [the deployment] and after the withdrawal of the Armed Forces from the area of operations,” Peruvian Navy Admiral (ret.) Mario Sánchez Debernardi, an independent defense and security advisor, told Diálogo on September 12. “Their communications, which are normally encrypted, were transmitted in plain language; they were concerned about the location and health of alias José.”
During the operation, authorities found and seized long and short guns, anti-personnel mines, ammunition, explosives, grenades, and rockets. Laptops, hard disks, USB files, and a large amount of documents, including the group’s communications material were also seized, “this is important because it has allowed us to completely dismantle its command, control, and communications system,” Gen. Gómez de la Torre added.
Peruvian Navy Admiral (ret.) Francisco Calisto Giampietri, who headed the Joint Intelligence and Special Operations Command (CIOEC), told Diálogo that security forces’ results were due to patient follow-up and intelligence work, since they had to get around a territory located in a jungle zone with dense vegetation and difficult to enter due to mines and hidden explosive devices.
“To enter this type of territory that narcoterrorism controls, there is a series of events, details, and routines, of knowing the magnitude of the enemy’s forces, planning from the ground and air,” Adm. Giampietri added.
Gen. Gómez said that everything seized was handed over to the Attorney General’s Office and to the Peruvian National Police’s specialized departments. For Operation Patriot, he added, authorities began gathering intelligence information in November 2021, such as analyzing the terrain where the enemy was hiding and meteorological conditions.
Peruvian National Police General Óscar Arriola Delgado, head of the National Directorate against Terrorism (Dircote), told the press that there were photographs and security codes among the files found. “There are campaign reports, the list of persons financing [terrorism], valuable information for the intelligence process that will make it possible to dismantle this organization,” he said.
Speaking to Diálogo on September 8, Peruvian defense and security expert Pedro Yaranga said that the documents and information found on site were more important than the military materiel seized, since these will make it possible for authorities to know details of the group’s structure and movements.
“This is going to take some time to analyze, but the specialized groups will be able to decipher the information seized and then enrich their analysis for subsequent operations,” Yaranga said, stressing that the success of the operation was due to the good training of the Armed Forces and Police agents.
According to an Armed Forces’ Joint Command statement, two soldiers lost their lives, while four others wounded service members were taken to Army and Navy hospitals for treatment.
On August 26, the wounded soldiers received a visit from Peruvian Defense Minister Richard Tineo, who expressed his gratitude for their participation in Operation Patriot. “These officers are an example. They put their physical integrity on the line to defend our democracy and the security of our country,” Tineo told the press.