In operations carried out September 8-21, the Peruvian Armed Forces dealt several blows to narcotrafficking and illegal mining.
On September 21, thanks to intelligence gathered by an elite group of the Peruvian National Police, service members found 433 kilograms of cocaine buried in Huanta province, Ayacucho department, as reported by the Peruvian newspaper El Comercio.
The Peruvian Armed Forces Joint Command (CCFFAA, in Spanish) told the press that on September 17, the Amazon Operational Command detained four Colombian nationals who were carrying 11 kg of cocaine, military rifles, pistols, grenades, and ammunition. The operation took place in Loreto department, near the Colombian border, where the detainees were identified as members of the criminal group E-48, dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, in Spanish).
In another operation on September 13, the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers Valley (VRAEM, in Spanish) Special Command found a lab, where “law enforcement forces seized 200 kg of cocaine hydrochloride and 150 kg of liquid drugs,” according to a press release. “In addition, about 3 tons of chemical precursors to manufacture drugs were found,” the CCFFAA said online. The operation took place in Huanta province, Ayacucho department.
On September 9, police seized 231 kg of cocaine coming from the VRAEM that “were going to be shipped to Brazil and Bolivia by air, from a clandestine airstrip,” El Comercio reported. During the operation, eight adults and one minor were detained and three trucks that were used to move the drug were seized, the newspaper reported.
Narcotrafficking seems to be growing in the region, according to a July 31, 2020 report from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy indicating that, “Coca (the plant used to make cocaine) cultivation in Peru significantly increased to 72,000 hectares in 2019, with potential pure cocaine production of 705 metric tons.” In 2018, the number of cultivated hectares was 52,100, with a potential production of 505 tons, the report added.
Regarding the Peruvian security forces’ operations against illegal mining, authorities found and destroyed 22 illegal mining campsites in just one day.
On September 8, patrols comprising members of the Peruvian Armed Forces, the National Police, and the Office of the Attorney General specializing in the Environment conducted a mega operation in the Vuelta Grande and Laberinto sectors, in La Pampa, Madre de Dios region, the CCFFAA indicated.
On site, authorities found 30 engines, 26 rafts, and 11,916 liters of fuel, among other equipment. All the material and equipment were destroyed, the CCFFAA added.
La Pampa has become a large mining enclave as a result of the construction of the Brazil-Peru Interoceanic Highway, which opened in December 2010, according to the report Conversion of Forest Landscapes to Amazonian Wetlands by Gold Mining, published in February 2020 by the Center for Amazonian Scientific Innovation, a Peruvian NGO dedicated to environmental and social research in the Amazon. “Between 2016 and 2019, 5,377 water wells were polluted by minerals as a result of gold mining; about 28 percent of the area has been degraded by illegal mining,” the report says.