Peruvian Police Dismantle Stolen Peruvian Arms Sold To Colombian Rebels

By Dialogo
January 14, 2010

Peruvian police dismantled a ring of military personnel that was selling armament to Colombia's leftist FARC guerrillas, La Republica newspaper reported. The ring included members of the Peruvian army and air force, but was led by Ecuadorian national Freddy Torres, who was arrested Dec. 19 in northern Peru and who represented himself to his accomplices as a logistics specialist with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The accomplices say that Torres, who has refused to give a statement to police, first entered Peru in 2004 to obtain arms and supplies for the FARC's Southern Bloc, which operates in regions along the Peruvian border. Torres initially shopped for grenades and ammunitions. In recent months, however, he managed to obtain Igla surface-to-air missiles and Browning M2-HB machine guns that were stolen from Peruvian air force arsenals, La Republica said. From Peru's army, Torres allegedly obtained rocket-propelled grenades and high-grade machine gun ammo capable of downing aircraft. The military accomplices delivered the stolen items to Julio Huapaya, who then re-sold them to Torres. "He bought weapons every 15 or 20 days and he had a lot of money. He also told me he was part of the FARC. He assured me they sent him around $100,000 a month for the purchases," Huapaya - now in custody - told police, according to the newspaper. Also arrested was former Peruvian policeman William Cortenero, who was found to have RPG ordnance at his homes in Lima and on the Pacific coast. Three army non-commissioned officers are in custody for their part in the scheme, including one who was filmed by police as he sold stolen weapons, La Republica said.