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

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Rodrigo Tovar Pupo never imagined it would come to this: dressed in an orange jumpsuit in a Washington DC courtroom and standing in front of a United States federal judge, the grandson of a wealthy Colombian cattle rancher and nephew to a governor was facing a possible...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

In the northwest corner of Guatemala, a little known criminal organization known as the "Huistas" dominates the underworld, in large part due its ties with businessmen, law enforcement officials and politicians.

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Like any arm of the justice system, the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG) had its battles with elites who used their charm and their muscle to try to influence what and who the celebrated commission...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala is Central America’s most populous country and its largest economy. But an intransigent elite, an ambitious military and a weak state has opened the way for organized crime to flourish, especially since the return of democracy.

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

By the end of 1993, Pablo Escobar was cornered. The cocaine king -- known as "El Patrón" -- was running out of money and options. His top assassins were either dead or had turned themselves in. Almost all of the senior members of the Medellín Cartel were...

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

On the morning of April 5, 1988, Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros left his palatial Tegucigalpa estate for a jog. Matta Ballesteros was wanted for murder, drug trafficking and other crimes in several countries, but in Honduras he felt safe. He regularly hosted parties for high-level officials at...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

As it tends to happen in Honduras, the news began as a well-heeled rumor: Javier Rivera Maradiaga, the oldest of the three Rivera Maradiaga brothers still alive and leader of the feared and powerful Honduran drug trafficking group known as the Cachiros, had handed himself in to...

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Organized crime is not an abstract concept for me. I grew up in Oak Park, a leafy suburb of Chicago with a population of about 60,000. In general, it was a very low crime city, which is perhaps why many mobsters made their homes there, among them...

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

This project defines organized crime as: a structured group of people that associate on a regular and prolonged basis to benefit from illicit activities and illegal markets. This group can be local, national or transnational in nature, and its existence is maintained using violence and threats; corruption...