Eighty five drug traffickers who had their sentence commuted by ex-president Alan Garcia in Peru have been re-arrested on drug charges, bringing under further question the reasons for their releases.
Members of the Garcia administration have been under intense pressure after an investigation by a specially formed congressional “mega-commission” revealed 400 people convicted of drug charges received presidential pardons or sentence reductions during Garcia’s presidency.
Garcia and his allies defended their policy by saying it was designed to reduce prison overcrowding by releasing those on the bottom rung of the drug trade. However, arrests made since then show how many of the released convicts immediately returned to the drug trade as members and leaders of international trafficking operations, reported La Republica.
Among the people re-arrested were 50 foreigners, who were supposed to have left Peru after their release.
InSight Crime Analysis
The news of the released convicts returning to high-level positions in the drug trade, which follows recent allegations made by a high-level drug trafficker that sentence reductions were for sale under the last administration, fatally undermines Garcia’s argument that the early-release policy had humanitarian motives.
It also follows allegations made earlier in the same week against Garcia concerning illegal property deals and personal enrichment, further hinting at corruption in his administration.
However Garcia is far from alone in this respect and political corruption in Peru is a long running issue. Of his two immediate predecessors, Alejandro Toledo is also facing accusations of corrupt property dealings, while Alberto Fujimori is in prison, convicted of embezzlement and human rights abuses.
Peru’s position as the world’s main cocaine exporter undoubtabely plays a significant role in this. While the drug trade has yet to bring the country the violence of mega cartels and drug wars seen in Colombia and Mexico, it appears to have thoroughly corrupted some of the country’s institutions.