Peru's National Police report the seizure of nearly a ton of cocaine, after two operations coordinated with the army in the conflicted Apurímac-Ene River Valley (VRAE)—stronghold of the remnant Shining Path guerillas, now said to be working with local narco gangs.
Victor Torres, police commander in the VRAE, said 540 kilograms were seized in the first operation on Oct. 7, near the community of Boca Sonaro, in the province of Satipo, Junín regional. Seven were arrested in the operation, led by the army’s 31st infantry brigade. Officials reportedly seized 415 kilograms in the second operation, which took place on Oct. 12, in Llochegua, Huanta province, in Ayacucho region. The operation, involving helicopters, also saw the destruction of two cocaine laboratories. Torres told radio network RPP that "although the operations were carried out at different times both are related, because it is the same gang, headed by a Colombian national, who went by the name of 'Bellota,' operating in Llochegua." (Peru This Week, Oct. 13)
On Sept. 14, two soldiers were killed when Shining Path guerillas fired on an army helicopter near the town of San Martin de Pangoa in the VRAE. The guerillas attacked just as troops were entering the transport helicopter after a ground patrol. The pilot, although wounded, was able to fly the helicopter to safety, with 20 surviving troops onboard. The attack was followed by an announcement that the military would deploy three more engineering battalions to the area, presumably to improve infrastructure in order to facilitate military patrols. Authorities are planning to build 600 kilometers of road in an effort to both consolidate military control and stimulate the legal economy as an alternative to coca cultivation in the jungle enclave. (InSight Crime, Sept. 26; La Republica, Sept. 19; La Republica, Sept. 15)
Photo by Jungle Boy