In 2011 Peru seized 13 tons of cocaine, just four percent of the estimated 330 tons that this Andean produced. Little wonder that drug traffickers are switching their attention from Colombia where 180 tons were seized last year.
The 2011 seizures figures are down from 2010 when 20 tons were seized, even though Peru increase its drug crops and cocaine production to nudge ahead of neighboring Colombia, which has held the number one spot for well over a decade. Peruvian traffickers have also improved their chemistry and are able to get more cocaine out of the coca leaves. Previously 375 kilos of coca leaf was needed to produce a kilo of cocaine. That number is now down to 300 kilos of leaf, meaning that cocaine production is increasing even faster than the increase in hectares under cultivation would suggest.
Prices also seem to be increasing within Peru for a kilo of cocaine. At source, buying directly from areas of production, a kilo costs around $1500. By the time that same kilo has travelled down to Lima, it is worth $4000. Get that to the mainland US and wholesale prices are around $25,000, depending on the port of entry.
InSight Crime Analysis
Drug traffickers follow the path of least resistance, and compared to Colombia, Peru is offering minimal resistance to cocaine smugglers. The increased migration of drug crops from Colombia to Peru, and also Bolivia, is likely to continue. Transnational organized crime will inevitably follow, and we can expect to see rising homicide rates in Peru as Mexicans and Colombians runs their own networks from here, and national criminal gangs increase in sophistication as money from drugs flows into their coffers and cooperation with international criminal syndicates increases.
The Peruvian rebel movement, the Shining Path, is also strengthening itself thanks to the drug trade. It is estimated that the number of rebels in the valley of the Apurimac and Ene Rivers (VRAE) has grown from a couple of hundred to 500 fighters, thanks to the income from drug trafficking. Parallels with Colombia’s Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), are too close for comfort.