Peruvians fear their country could become a narco-state

In a recent survey, 70 percent of respondents said they believe Peru is in danger of becoming a narco-state, a reflection of perceived ties between drug traffickers and government institutions in the Andean nation.

The survey conducted by the company Ipsos-Peru and published in Peruvian newspaper El Comercio also found that 67 percent of those polled believe the links between drug trafficking and the state have increased during the administration of current President Ollanta Humala, who took office in 2011.

Notably, respondents believe drug trafficking has infiltrated Peru's central government to a higher degree than state institutions at the regional and municipal level. Close to half (43 percent) of the 1,208 Peruvians surveyed said infiltration by drug traffickers is widespread and reaches the highest levels of the national government (see graph below). 

In comparison, 35 percent of respondents think drug traffickers influence high-ranking officials at the regional level, and just 23 percent think this is true in local government institutions (see graph below).

At least forty percent of respondents also believe high-level officials in Peru's judicial branch, Attorney General's Office, and national police have ties to drug trafficking. 

Perhaps just as noteworthy is how few Peruvians feel drug trafficking has no influence over state institutions. Less than 10 percent of those polled said they think the central and regional governments, Congress, the judicial branch, the national police, and the military are not infiltrated whatsoever by drug traffickers.

InSight Crime Analysis

The large percentage of Peruvians who feel the country is in danger of becoming a narco-state is somewhat surprising, but not entirely baseless. In April, Congresswoman Rosa Mavila said Peru may already "merit the label 'narco-state'" because of the heavy flow of cocaine leaving the country's principal coca-growing region, known as the VRAEM. 

It also appears that drug traffickers and other criminals have managed to influence, at least to some degree, many branches and levels of the government in Peru. Former President Alan Garcia has been investigated for allegedly selling pardons to convicted drug traffickers. In 2014 gubernatorial elections, Peru elected six governors who are under investigation for either drug trafficking, corruption or money laundering. That same year, then Interior Minister Daniel Urresti identified over 100 candidates running for municipal and regional government positions who had been linked to drug trafficking cases.

SEE ALSO: Peru News and Profiles

However, the public's perception of the degree to which drug trafficking has co-opted the state may be a reflection of increased media reports of corruption and drug trafficking scandals, rather than an increase in actual ties between criminals and government officials. Drug trafficking's subversive influence on Peruvian politics "is not something new," Peruvian university researcher Nicolas Zevallos told Spanish news agency EFE. "What could be happening is that the coverage of these [narco-politics] cases in the media is affecting citizen perception," Zevallos said.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
Prev Next

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power.

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs.