How Drug Traffickers Operate in Peru’s Amazon Region

Peru’s anti-drug police have released new details on how drug trafficking groups are reportedly able to move up to 80 tons of cocaine annually through the Amazon region where the borders of Colombia, Peru, and Brazil meet.  

A police report obtained by La Republica states that drugs from the departments of San Martin, Huanuco, and Ucayali in Peru are moved via a number of fluvial routes to Peru’s triple-frontier region (see map below). An unidentified police source told La Republica the northern city of Caballococha has become a hub for drug trafficking in the tri-border area; however, drugs are also sent to Leticia in Colombia as well as Tabatinga and Benjamin Constant in Brazil, according to the report.

2015-Pic-Tri

Peruvian anti-drug police, known as the Dirandro, have calculated that 80 tons of cocaine destined for Brazil are trafficked through this region every year, Colombian newspaper Portfolio reported in June 2014. According to the Dirandro report, drug trafficking groups operate with impunity due to scarce state presence and the area’s geographical remoteness.

Members of the Brazilian, Colombian, and Peruvian armies conducted the first counter-drug operation of its kind in the triple frontier region on April 3, according to La Republica. 

InSight Crime Analysis

La Republica’s report draws attention to how drug trafficking groups take advantage of weak state institutions and porous borders in the Amazon region to move cocaine to Brazil, the world’s second-largest consumer of the illicit drug. Last year, a police officer based in the Peruvian Amazon told InSight Crime security forces are often outnumbered by criminal groups there.

While the estimate that 80 tons of cocaine are moved through the Amazonian tri-border area is precisely that — just an estimate — it is nevertheless a reasonable one. According to the most recent UN coca monitoring report (pdf), 3,070 hectares of coca were cultivated on the Peruvian side of the Amazon region in 2013, or just 6.2 percent of the country’s total coca output. However, close to 7,000 additional hectares were grown in the departments named in the Dirandro report, meaning a substantial amount of coca is likely being produced in order to be moved by river to the triple border region. 

SEE ALSO: Peru News and Profiles

There have been other signs that Colombia, Brazil and Peru are willing to work together on combating drug trafficking in the Amazon. In October 2014, Colombia and Peru agreed to bolster interdiction efforts against drug trafficking as well as illegal mining along their shared frontier.