Peru Rescues Over 200 'Trafficking Victims' from Brothels in Mining Region
Written by Jeanna Cullinan, InSight, Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Peruvian authorities rescued at least 234 women, many of whom had reportedly been trafficked, from brothels in the remote region of Madre de Dios, on the southeastern border with Brazil and Bolivia.
Police raided 60 brothels in and around Puerto Maldonado, capital of the Tambopata province, on Sunday, and arrested five alleged traffickers. Officials stated that 10 minors were among those rescued, the youngest of who is reportedly 13 years old.
Asociacion Hurayo, a Peruvian NGO operating in the region, estimates that as many as 400 adolescents and 1,200 adults are working as prostitutes in Madre de Dios.
Madre de Dios is home to a large informal gold mining sector, and authorities estimate that hundreds of Peruvians from poor, rural communities arrive daily to the area, which produces approximately a fifth of all gold in the country. Many of these are miners, usually men who arrive without their families.
Following the operation, the government announced plans to install a "permanent state presence" in regional capital Puerto Maldonado, to combat crimes like illegal mining and drug trafficking, as well as trafficking in humans.
Human trafficking networks in Peru often prey upon poor or indigenous communities in remote areas like the Amazon region, where victims are recruited and sent to work as forced laborers or prostitutes, often in cities on the Pacific coast and other urban destinations.
The Routes and Methods of Peru's Cocaine Traffickers
Written by Christopher Looft, InSight
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
In the fourth part of its series on drug trafficking in Peru, IDL-Reporteros looks at the methods used to move some 200 tons of cocaine a year out of the VRAE region, and maps out the routes employed by traffickers.
The Apurimac and Ene River Valley (VRAE) is Peru's biggest drug-producing region -- about a third of the country's coca is cultivated there -- and much of its output is transported to Bolivia as less refined cocaine paste for processing. The Shining Path guerrilla group are active there, though the extent of their involvement with the cocaine trade is unclear. This report shows that although they play an important role, they are not the only players in the valley's cocaine business.
Instead, the group is employed to protect cocaine shipments on the routes it controls. The trafficking clans of the VRAE hide their shipments in the bodies of trucks, some of which are chosen to blend in with the vehicles of the local mining and construction companies.
The following is InSight Crime's translation of extracts from the fourth installment in IDL-Reporteros' series on Peru's drug trade, "The Cocaine Clans":
A caravan of seven four-door pickup trucks leaves Kimbiri, in Cusco, headed for Desaguadero, in Puno. Hidden in the bodies of the vehicles is about half a ton of washed cocaine paste, which in the valley is worth about $400,000.
Some of the drug is hidden in stashes inside the beds of the trucks, and some in the gas tanks, in plastic bottles. Each truck can carry a hidden load of up to 150 kilograms of drugs: 100 in the bed and 50 in the tank.
Five of the seven trucks entered Cielo Punku in the morning, after passing through Lobo. Soon after, the drivers had to stop short in a blocked section of the road.
Nine anti-drug agents, who were hiding behind a bush, surrounded the trucks and captured the drivers. While they searched the trucks, the two remaining vehicles that had been delayed got past the roadblock before they could be stopped. They were heading to Cusco.
The agents followed the vehicles and stopped them in Cusco. It was April of 2010, and the Anti-Drug Squad (Dirandro) seized about half a ton of drugs in this operation.
As sources familiar with the issue confirmed to IDL-Reporteros, more than 80 percent of the drugsthat leave the VRAE through Cusco go in pickup trucks, cargo trucks and transport vehicles. Double-cab pickup trucks, especially Toyota Hiluxes, make a good disguise because this is the type of vehicle used by mining and construction companies.
Heavy cargo trucks are also in high demand. They transport an average of half a ton of drugs, hidden in stashes in the bed, in sacks or cases of fruits and vegetables, and groceries.
Union Mantaro, Llochegua. A group of 20 backpackers or "cargachos" prepare their backpacks and supplies. Between them they will carry around 200 kilograms of washed cocaine paste.
The "cargachos" had been recruited in Puerto Cocos and Puerto Ene, where drug trafficking trade fairs are held on weekends. In greatest supply are precursor chemicals, washed and simple cocaine paste, gasoline, and (one has to eat) groceries.
The backpackers are used in the "ant trafficking" method, which is one of the most common and secure forms of taking drugs out of the valley. If the "cargachos" are ambushed or captured by the police, the loss is not great.
But if an important shipment of drugs is going to be transported, more than a half a ton, some traffickers contract the services of the Shining Path's VRAE faction so they can take charge of the transport, using routes they control.
As we also saw in the first installment: "The Shining Path and Drug Trafficking in the VRAE," the Quispe Palomino brothers charge between $50 and $60 per kilo, whether it is cocaine paste or hydrochloride.
At four in the morning, while the "cargachos" were sleeping in two large rooms in a house in the center of Union Mantaro, a group of 30 police officers entered in silence and suprised them before they could wake up. They were caught in their underwear, with backpacks of cocaine close at hand.
As often happens, the people of Union Mantaro tried to stop the arrest, but ultimately they could not do so.
Since the operation, in 2008, there has not been any other such large capture of backpackers. The fact that a detention of such magnitude has not been repeated indicates the limitations of interdiction operations in the VRAE.
But the methods are changing. According to well-placed sources, the shipment of drugs by cargachos has been reduced significantly, while the smuggling of drugs hidden in vehicles has increased in the valley.
Through these routes -- in backpacks and stashes in the bodies of vehicles -- around 200 tons of cocaine is exported from the VRAE each year, the majority washed cocaine paste, and a smaller proportion cocaine hydrochloride. [See IDL-Reporteros' maps of the land and river routes for trafficking drugs out of the VRAE, below.]
When it starts its journey to the consumer markets, cocaine in the VRAE (using quantities and prices from 2010) is worth about $200 million.
This is a small sum compared to what the same amount of drugs, partially adulterated, would cost at its destination. But it is sufficient to mobilize the energies and the cunning of thousands of people who work in the drug trafficking chain in the VRAE, and to disrupt lives and corrupt people and institutions in the valley.
Peruvian police seizes $2.3m in fake bills
BBC News, August 2, 2012
Police in Peru say they have seized $2.3m (£1.5m) in counterfeit notes.
They say the notorious Quispe Rodriguez family clan is behind the production of fake currency.
Peruvian police chief, Raul Salazar, said the gang was planning to smuggle the counterfeit $50 bills into the United States, hidden inside Peruvian souvenirs.
The US says Peru is the largest foreign producer of counterfeit dollars.
This year alone, Peruvian police say they have seized $17m (£11m) in forged currency.
Mr Salazar said a man accused of belonging to the Quispe Rodriguez family clan, Luis Alfredo Obando Paredes, was also arrested.
The money and material for the production of fake bills, such as special paint and paper, was seized in a house in the capital, Lima.
Other relatives were arrested two weeks ago with millions of fake dollars, euros and a smaller amount of soles, the Peruvian currency.
The authorities say the family gang is led by Joel Rodriguez Quispe, known as Nique, who is in jail and is being prosecuted.
The BBC's Mattia Cabitza in Lima says the techniques used to send the fake money abroad, hiding the notes in unusual places to avoid detection, are similar to those employed by drug traffickers.
Peru burns record 50-tonne marijuana haul
BBC News, August 3, 2012
Police in Peru say they have destroyed more than 50 tonnes of marijuana.
In an operation lasting five days, the police say they located a record 207,000 marijuana plants in two central regions of the country.
According to a report released this week by the US Office of National Drug Control Policy, Peru is the top cocaine producer in the world, followed by Bolivia and Colombia.
Analysts say that little is known about Peru's marijuana production.
Peru's Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza said the police operation had led to the burning of 17 times more marijuana than had been destroyed in the whole of 2011.
Police Director Gen Raul Salazar said a total of 34.5 hectares (85.25 acres) of marijuana plantations had been destroyed in the La Libertad and and Huanaco regions.
Gen Salazar said the police had identified the financial brains behind the marijuana plantation and were moving in on him.
Milton Rojas of the Peruvian Centre for Information and Education for the Prevention of Drug Abuse (CEDRO) said that most of Peru's marijuana production seemed to be for domestic consumption.
Mr Rojas told the BBC's Mattia Cabitza in Lima that unconfirmed reports suggested that marijuana plants were increasingly being grown alongside coca bushes.
In its annual report, published on Monday, the US Office of National Drug Control Policy said that coca cultivation in Peru increased by 33% between 2009 and 2010.
According to the report, for the first time in recent history potential pure Peruvian cocaine production exceeded that of Colombia.
Peru's Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza said the government was pursuing "an aggressive strategy" to reverse this trend.