Peruvian police arrested several coca growers in the central Huanuco region of Peru last week, for alleged connections to Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala, alias “Comrade Artemio,” leader of the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) armed group.
According to the Spanish news agency EFE, the connections were verified through the interception of more than 250 telephone conversations. Among those implicated in the drug trafficking network are Rosa Obregón, Miguel Martínez and David Salas, all three of whom are leaders of legal coca growers’ unions in the region. These three and 27 others were arrested last Friday, reportedly on charges of collaboration with terrorism, drug trafficking and money laundering.
A video clip released by the Peruvian news program “Día D” last week shows Flores instructing the union leaders on the activities to be carried out in the coming months to support the Shining Path. Interestingly, when addressing his visitors, the guerrilla commander said to be acting in the name of Shining Path founder Abimael Guzman, who is serving a life sentence for terrorism and has dismissed the remaining members of the guerrilla group “mercenaries,” according to a 2009 interview with La Republica.