Peruvian eradicators in the Upper Huallaga Valley

Peru has eradicated a record amount of coca in 2013, surpassing the country's goal for the year of 22,000 hectares, an achievement likely linked both to increased anti-drug efforts and better accessibility in regions formerly controlled by Shining Path guerrillas.

Interior Minister Walter Alban said Peru had destroyed 22,543 hectares of illicit coca crops in 2013. "This number, which we have just significantly surpassed, represents an absolute record in the history of coca crop eradication in Peru," said the minister. He said the crops eradicated prevented the production of 173 tons of cocaine, reported El Comercio.

With a month left in the year, the figures represent a 59 percent increase on total coca eradication for 2012, when Peruvian officials destroyed 14,171 hectares of illicit coca.

The government has also seized and destroyed over 26 tons of drugs of various types this year, according to Alban.

InSight Crime Analysis

Peru's dramatic increase in eradication for 2013, which forms part of a four-year strategy, is another indication the country is taking serious strides to combat drug production and organized crime. The government also recently implemented a law instating harsher penalties for organized crime activities, and plans to triple the budget for the criminal investigations unit of the police (DIRINCRI) in 2014.

Peru's coca production has historically been concentrated in two areas controlled by Shining Path guerrillas -- the Upper Huallaga Valley and the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM). However, the rebels' Huallaga faction, formerly led by Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala, alias "Comrade Artemio," has disintegrated since his capture in early 2012. Sources linked to Peruvian eradication programs said they met little resistance in the Huallaga Valley in 2013 compared with past years, likely contributing to the government's success in meeting its ambitious goals.

In 2012, Peru surpassed Colombia to become the world's number one coca cultivator, with some 60,000 hectares of the crop compared to 48,000 in Colombia. Despite increased efforts, Peru's eradication figure is still nowhere close to annual eradication in Colombia, where some 135,000 hectares were destroyed through combined aerial and manual efforts in 2012, meaning Peru is likely to retain its top producer status in 2014. Aerial fumigation is not allowed in Peru.

Peru's limited interdiction capacity for drug flights -- the country has no radar technology -- means the government has to hit the supply side hard. However, this strategy has its flaws: coca growers can just shift production elsewhere, and the strategy also fails to attack the root of the problem.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Former Guatemalan Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla -- a decorated war hero and a longtime US ally -- finds himself treading water amidst a flurry of accusations about corruption and his connections to drug traffickers. López Bonilla is not the most well-known suspect in the cases against...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...