Peruvian government adds resources to battle terrorism and drug trafficking
By Dialogo September 30, 2014
Peruvian troops stationed at the Villa María, a military base in the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro River Valleys (VRAEM), are about to get reinforcements in the battle against terrorist groups like the Shining Path and drug trafficking organizations.
“I have come today to ratify the government’s commitment to continue providing logistical and economic assistance so you can fully meet the complicated task that you’ve been assigned,” Defense Minister Pedro Cateriano said during a recent visit to the base.
Cateriano was referring to the four planes, eight helicopters and new radar system the government is planning to buy by March 2015 to bolster Peru’s fight against terrorists and drug traffickers. The government is also planning to build 10 military bases in the VRAEM – the world’s top coca-producing region – in 2015.
“We are working – you are not alone and have our support. We’re confident the country will defeat terrorism and Shining Path eventually be defeated with a patriotic military action that all will appreciate,” the defense minister told the troops.
Cateriano made his announcement days after Peruvian security forces concluded an operation that destroyed 54 clandestine landing strips used by drug traffickers, according to Vicente Romero Fernández, the head of the Directorate of the National Police of Perú (DIRANDRO). Most of the landing strips were in the VRAEM region.
Cracking down on narco-flights is a key component of the Peruvian government’s fight against drug trafficking. Gathering intelligence is an important aspect of that effort.
To improve intelligence gathering efforts, Peruvian and Bolivian officials recently agreed to share real-time information regarding suspicious planes traveling across the countries’ shared border. It’s a significant step considering about half of 450 tons of cocaine produced in Perú annually is flown to Bolivia by drug traffickers who then transport the drug to Central America, North America, Brazil, Mexico, Europe and Asia.
As of late September, Peruvian security forces have confiscated 14 planes used by narco-traffickers to transport drugs.
Drug traffickers who operate in Perú in recent years have been transporting larger amounts of drugs to Europe, where they can charge higher prices than they can in the United States, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Consequently, Peruvian security forces are indicting drug loads which were destined for Europe. For example, on August 27, security forces seized 7.6 tons of cocaine they found hidden inside a shipment of coal in a warehouse in the city of Trujillo, marking the largest confiscation in the country’s history, according to Interior Minister Daniel Urresti. Drug traffickers intended to transport the cocaine to Spain and Belgium. The cocaine was worth more than $300 million (USD).
Peruvian police arrested six Peruvians and two Mexican nationals in connection with the cocaine seizure. Police identified the Mexican suspects as Rubén Larios Cabadas and Jhoseth Gutiérrez León, respectively. The two men are suspected members of the Sinaloa Cartel, a Mexican transnational criminal organization which operates in Perú and other Latin American countries.
In 2012, criminal organizations cultivated more than 60,000 hectares of coca crops in Perú, according to the UNODC’s annual report, “Perú: Cocaine Cultivation Monitoring 2012.” Perú is home to 13-coca growing regions, with 60,400 hectares which are used for coca cultivation, according to the report.
Ninety-three percent of the country’s coca – the main ingredient used to produce cocaine – is used for the drug trade, with the remaining plants used for traditional consumption and industrial use, according to Peru’s National Commission for a Drug-Free Life (DEVIDA).