Peruvian police recruits train in modern academy to fight organized crime
By Dialogo March 25, 2014
Peruvian security forces recently inaugurated a new police academy that is considered the most modern and advanced facility of its kind in the country.
Police officials began using the facility, the Superior Technical School of the National Police of Peru (PNP), in February 2014. The academy is located in the municipality of Santa María del Valle, Huánuco province.
Since the last week of February, police have been training 198 recruits at the academy, authorities said.
Interior Minister Walter Albán Peralta said the new academy shows authorities are prepared to invest “whatever is necessary” to combat international drug trafficking and other illicit activities – such as extortion, kidnapping, and arms smuggling – that organized crime groups engage in.
The Superior Technical School “is currently the most modern and advanced in the country,” Albán Peralta said during a Feb. 15, 2014 inauguration ceremony.
At the academy, training officers are teaching police recruits a variety of law enforcement skills, such as how to locate drugs, how to interview witnesses, and how to fire a handgun.
The academy features firing ranges, virtual classrooms, laboratories, a teleconference room, a cutting-edge computer center, separate dorms for men and women, a library, and sports facilities for physical training.
A joint effort
About half the academy had been built as of mid-March, 2014. The rest of it was under construction. The academy is being built with funds from the Peruvian government and from the United States.
The Peruvian government will spend $9 million (USD) and the U.S. government will contribute $6 million (USD), according to the Interior Ministry.
Peru and the U.S. cooperate in the fight against transnational criminal organizations, primarily by sharing information. Collaborating to fund the new academy is another form of cooperation.
“It is a joint effort. We are confident that this is the way to strengthen a police force that we need to be increasingly strong, more legitimate, reliable, and respected, for all Peruvians,” Albán Peralta said.
The school will train police officers who support “the fight against drug trafficking and corruption to strengthen public safety,” said Michael Fitzpatrick, the chargé d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Peru. Fitzpatrick participated in the inaugural ceremony.
Once it is complete, the new academy will have the capacity to train 320 recruits at a time. Recruits will be sworn in as officers after they have graduated from the academy. Graduates will join the PNP throughout the country.
The new academy will help the PNP improve its professionalization, said Carlos Mendoza, director of Strategic Projects Consulting, a private security firm in Mexico City.
“The new academy is a good move. The modernization of the Peruvian police takes a lot time to generate results in the medium term for the country,” Mendoza said.
Fighting organized crime
Peruvian security forces are fighting increased levels of crime.
In 2013, overall crime rose by nearly 30 percent, according to government statistics. About 80 percent of Peru’s 30 million inhabitants are concerned with insecurity, according to a recent poll.
The Shining Path is the largest organized crime group operating in Peru. It engages in drug trafficking, firearms smuggling, money laundering, and the production of coca paste.
Criminal organizations such as the Shining Path “pose a risk to the regional security and stability of the country,” Mendoza said.
Between Jan. 1 2014 and mid-March 2014, organized crime enforcers killed at leaset 13 people in Peru, according to the government.
One of those victims was the son of Carlos Burgos, the mayor of San Juan Lurigancho. On Feb. 16, 2014, the son, Carlos Enrique Burgos Gonzalez, 23, was shot to death as he left the Pericos nightclub. The gunman or gunmen also wounded three of his friends. Police found at least 10 bullet casings at the scene of the attack.
Efforts by the PNP
The PNP is working hard to improve public safety.
The PNP has more than 34,800 officers assigned to 1,397 police stations. Most of the police stations have 30 to 60 police officers, according to the First National Census of Police Stations 2012, conducted by the National Statistics and Information Bureau (INEI).
Officers at most of the police stations -- 1,232 of them – patrol communities on foot and in police cars, conduct criminal investigations, and work with the community to improve security. Another 165 police stations conduct specialized duties, such as providing security on roads and in airports.
The PNP has 3,516 vehicles including cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, and bicycles, according to INEI.
PNP agents have made some important arrests and drug seizures in recent months:
• On March 11, agents with the PNP’s drug enforcement division captured four suspects who were allegedly in possession of 114 kilos of cocaine. The suspects were allegedly part of the Los Sapos gang, which is led by the Perez Melitón family, authorities said. Los Sapos processes cocaine and transports large amounts of the drug to Bolivia. The gang also sells drugs in Peru.
• On March 7, security forces confiscated 325 kilos of cocaine from a Bolivian airplane in Chorrillos, Oxapampa province. Security forces arrested two suspects. The plane had was headed to Europe.
• In February, police agents from the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (Dirincri) arrested more than 40 people suspected of homicide and extortion in the cities of Lima and Callao. Some of the suspects were believed to be operatives with three gangs: Los Sabuesos de Santa Anita, Los Panas de San Juan de Miraflores, and Los Jacobo.
International drug trafficking
Transnational criminal organizations from Peru, Colombia, and Mexico have sophisticated transit networks to send shipments of drugs from Peru to the United States, East Asia, Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean, and other Latin American countries. In addition to the Shining Path, the Mexico-based Sinaloa Cartel and drug trafficking organizations from Colombia, such as Los Rastrojos and Los Urabenos, traffick drugs through Peru.
Cooperation between partner nations such as Peru and the U.S. is crucial in the battle against international drug trafficking, Mendoza said.
“Information sharing between security forces is a key element that Peruvian authorities implement when operationalizing intelligence in the fight against criminal gangs and drug trafficking,” Mendoza said.
Cooperation between Peru and the United States has never been greater, Mendoza said. The two countries are working cooperatively to fight drug trafficking, arms smuggling, money laundering, and other offenses committed by transnational criminal organizations, the security analyst said.