According to Peru’s military intelligence, there are 500 members of the Shining Path fighting in the lawless region known as the VRAE.
Previous estimates for the total number of armed Shining Path combatants have hovered between 350 to nearly 800, according to numbers released by the military and by Peruvian security analysts. This latest estimate suggests that the Shining Path have built up their strength in the Apurimac and Ene river valleys, a lawless area known at the VRAE.
The Shining Path in the VRAE is led by alias “Comrade Jose,” and is deeply involved in the production and sale of coca base and cocaine. Another faction, based further north in the Upper Huallaga Valley, has tried to distance themselves from “Jose’s” group, calling them “mercenaries” with no connection to Shining Path’s revolutionary ideology.