Peru's anti-drug police played a key role in the operation

The alleged leader of a major drug trafficking clan in Peru's VRAEM region has been arrested, as the government enters the second year of a four-year plan to bring the lawless area back under state control.

Wilder Huaman Tineo, alias "Don Pietro," was detained after a 10-day surveillance operation by a special team within Peru’s National Anti-Drugs Directorate (Dirando), reported newspaper La Republica. Huaman reportedly controlled drug production and trafficking operations in the the Apurimac and Ene River Valley and the Mantaro Valley, a region known as the VRAEM. It is a known stronghold of guerrilla group the Shining Path. 

Police arrested Huaman in a house in the Los Olivos neighborhood in Lima on February 12. They found 102 kilos of cocaine hydrochloride on the property, with an estimated worth of more than $95,000. 

In one indication of Huaman's seniority, according to police, one of Huaman's employees was Jose Manuel Lopez Quispe, another major drug trafficker in the VRAEM region and an alleged supplier to Mexican cartels, who was arrested in June 2012.

InSight Crime Analysis

Last June the Peruvian government announced a four-year strategy to combat drug trafficking in the VRAEM through increased development programs. The plan intends to restore order and weaken local support for Shining Path guerrillas, said to control around 30 percent of cocaine exports from the VRAEM, by building roads, hospitals, and schools, rather than bulking up the military's presence.

Asides from the Shining Path, much of the region's drug trade is now controlled by family clans, like the one Huaman is alleged to have headed. This is a sharp contrast from Peru's trafficking landscape 20 years ago, when Colombian cartels were heavily involved in Peru's drug trade. The shift towards family clans was documented in a special 2012 report by investigative news organization IDL-Reporteros, which noted that the clans produce between 300 to 500 kilos of drugs per month.