Shining Path leader Alezander Dimas Fabián Huamán captured by Peruvian security forces
By Dialogo January 29, 2014
Peruvian Army soldiers and National Police agents recently captured Alezander Dimas Fabián Huamán, a high-ranking leader of the Shining Path who is also known as “Héctor.”
Agents of the Special Intelligence Brigade, which is comprised of members of the Armed Forces and the National Police of Peru (PNP), captured Héctor on Dec. 9, 2013 in the department of Huánuco. President Ollanta Humala announced the arrest at Army headquarters during a ceremony commemorating the anniversary of the Battle of Ayacucho.
Héctor led the rebel group’s operations in Huallaga Valley, one of the largest coca-growing valleys in Peru, authorities said.
Drug traffickers cultivate coca on about 13,000 hectares valley, producing about 100 tons of cocaine a year, authorities said. Héctor is also suspected of killing several people who lived along the banks of the Huallaga River, which flows through several regions of the central jungle and is a transit area for drug trafficking organization.
‘Major blow’ to the Shining Path
“The capture of the terrorist Héctor dealt a major blow to Shining Path (SL). With this, we are consolidating the pacification of the Huallaga [Valley],” Gen. Vicente Romero, director of the Anti-Drug Directorate of the National Police (DIRANDRO) told reporters.
Intelligence work and cooperation between the PNP and the Armed Forces led to the capture, said Diego Salazar Morales, principal researcher of the publication, Revista Andina de Estudios Políticos.
Special Intelligence Brigade agents captured Héctor around 9:20 a.m. in the Las Lomas sector of the José Crespo y Castillo district in the province of Leoncio Prado, in the highland department of Huanuco, according to a joint statement from the Ministries of Defense and Interior. A member of the Public Prosecutor’s office also participated in the operation, authorities said.
Attacking the SP’s leadership
The capture of Héctor is part of an ongoing effort by Peruvian security forces to weaken the leadership of the SP.
In February, 2012, Peruvian security forces captured SP leader Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala, who is also known as “Artemio.” A team of National Police agents and Army soldiers captured Artemio in the Tocache province during “Operation Peru.” Security forces wounded Artemio during a fierce gun battle. Artemio, who was later convicted of terrorism, drug trafficking, and money laundering. He is serving a life sentence in prison.
The capture of Artemio was a strong blow against the SP, security officials said. The recent arrest of Héctor, who had been leading the Shining Path after the capture of Artemio, further weakens the SP, according to Diego Salazar Morales, a researcher at the publication Andean Political Studies.
“A group of 50 to 60 armed men are trying to save what remains of the Shining Path organization in the area,” Salazar Morales said. “The capture of Héctor slows reorganization.”
The Shining Path rebel group split into two factions more than 20 years ago after security forces captured its founder and then-leader, Abimael Guzmán Reynoso, who is known as “Gonzalo”. The “Acuerdista” faction remained loyal to Gonzalo, and operated primarily in the Huallaga Valley region. The “Proseguir” faction has operated primarily in the region that includes the Valley of the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers (VRAEM).
Víctor Quispe Palomino, who is known as “José” and Jorge Quispe Palomino, who is also known as “Raúl”, lead the “Proseguir” faction.
Both factions produce and traffic cocaine. The SP depends on this criminal enterprise to buy weapons and finance its terrorist activities, authorities said.
Fighting the SP in the VRAEM
In recent years, the Proseguir faction of the SP has killed dozens of police agents and Army soldiers who were conducting security operations in the VRAEM, according to the report, “Situational Analysis of Drug Trafficking,” which was published by the American Police Community (AMERIPOL).
Transnational criminal organizations from Peru, Colombia, and Mexico have sophisticated transit networks to send drug shipments from Peru to the United States, East Asia, Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean, and other Latin American countries.
The SL once generated most of its income by collecting “fees” from drug trafficking organizations which operate in Peru. The SL now cultivates, processes, and traffics tons of cocaine every year, said Alain Zegarra Sun, a security analyst at Federico Villarreal National University. The SL supports its terrorist activities by cultivating and trafficking drugs, the security analyst said.
“In other words, there is a symbiotic relationship between terrorism and drug trafficking as Shining Path (SL) has mutated into what the Brigadier General of the Peruvian Army, Leonardo Longa López, rightly called ‘terror narco-logging.’ Currently, the terrorist group survives on these two illicit activities: drug trafficking and illegal logging,” Zegarra Sun explained.
While the captures of Héctor and Artemio are important blows against the SP, security forces in the VRAEM must remain vigilant, according to Zegarra Sun. Both SP factions adjust whenever their leaders are captured or killed, Zegarra Sun said.
Even if security forces were to capture all of the top SP leaders in the VRAEM, other Shining Path operatives would move up in the group’s hierarchy to replace them, or, Colombian drug traffickres might move into the region, Salazar Morales said.
“Efforts must be redoubled based on operational intelligence, which will have to be reinforced with a comprehensive strategy that also prioritizes the promotion of development on the basis of a concerted effort from all sectors of the State, the sphere of development, in order to win the hearts and minds of the people, isolating them from the guerrillas like separating fish from water,” Zerraga Sun said.
Security forces will continue to root out drug trafficking in the VRAEM, said Carmen Masias, chief executive of the National Commission for Development and Life without Drugs (Devida).
“We will go into the VRAEM region whether or not the Shining Path is there,” Masias said. “The social cost must always be assessed, but we cannot wait for terrorism to end before we take any action.”