Authorities in Peru have dismantled a drug trafficking clan and seized over $11 million dollars in assets in a case that sheds light on the nature of Peruvian organized crime and drug trade.
On December 11, Peru’s Interior Minister Daniel Urresti announced that the anti-drug agency (Dirandro) had seized properties, vehicles, and money belonging to a criminal group dedicated to laundering drug trafficking proceeds, reported La Republica. A total of 15 people were detained and sixteen properties were seized during the first phase of the operation.
According to General Vicente Romero Fernandez, the head of Dirandro, the drug trafficking clan is comprised of 25 individuals — including leader Feliciano Contreras Pino, alias “Brujo,” who was captured in 2012 — and used front companies and proxies to launder money and purchase properties.
The group operated between Peru and Bolivia, according to El Comercio, and had been the target of a 2011 operation in Bolivia in which 15 Peruvians were detained.
InSight Crime Analysis
The case of the drug trafficking clan allegedly led by Contreras demonstrates both the structure of criminal organizations in Peru and the importance of Bolivia as a transit nation for Peruvian cocaine. From Bolivia drug shipments can go to the main South American markets of Brazil and Argentina, which also act as transshipment nations for destinations in Europe and Asia.
Like many criminal organizations in Peru — where in some regions small family based clans control drug production and export — Contreras’ group is allegedly comprised of members with familial ties. Peruvian authorities have identified Contreras’ romantic partner and her two sisters as part of the group, as well as four siblings currently being prosecuted in Bolivia and two other individuals who share Contreras’ last name.
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In addition, the family clan allegedly moved Peruvian cocaine to Bolivia, which is a major transit point for drug shipments headed to Brazil both for the country’s domestic market and en route to Europe and Asia. As of 2011, Contreras allegedly had around $4 million dollars in assets in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where he has been linked to at least one drug seizure. He was captured in Peru in 2012 and sentenced to 25 years in prison for drug trafficking.
Peru does not have powerful cartels like those seen in Mexico and Colombia. Instead it appears that much of the drug trade is in the hands of clans, small groups, often based around family units, which handle smaller loads but still have transnational reach.