Peru Elects Suspected Drug Traffickers as Governors

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As the votes from Peru’s regional and local elections continue to be tallied, some candidates suspected of having illicit ties have emerged among the gubernatorial winners — a sign the pre-election fuss did little to keep “narco” candidates at bay. 

Two suspected money launderers included on a list presented to the national election authority (JNE) by Peru’s interior minister in August won posts as regional presidents (similar to governors), reported La Republica. Gilmer Horna Corrales, who has been elected governor of Amazonas, is under investigation for allegedly laundering over $3.5 million. Wilfredo Oscorima, who has been reelected in Ayacucho, currently faces trial, also for money laundering. 

Meanwhile, Manuel Gambini, the winner in Ucayali, is a former coca grower investigated for illicit enrichment and ties to drug traffickers, according to a preliminary government investigation accessed by the Associated Press

A fourth gubernatorial candidate, Michael Martinez of Apurimac — who is suspected of receiving money from businessmen tied to the drug trade — will be going to a second round of voting since he did not gain the necessary 30 percent of votes to win in the first round. 

Amid the election chaos — in which 95 acts of violence and three deaths were registered, in addition to the two mayoral candidates and two police murdered in the run-up to the elections — Peruvian authorities have also captured the mayor of Chiclayo, in the coastal Lambayeque region. He is accused of running a criminal network and of money laundering. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Campaigns in Peru, like much of the rest of Latin America, are financed by wealthy individuals. In places where drug traffickers are the most powerful economic and social actors, this is a major problem, evidenced by the October 5 elections in Peru. 

SEE ALSO: Peru News and Profiles

While a full list of the mayoral winners at a district and provincial level has not yet been released, it is highly likely that a number of these will also include suspected drug traffickers — particularly given that Peru’s top counter-drug official, Sonia Medina, told the Associated Press her office had identified 700 candidates with suspicious ties to illicit activities. (Prior to the elections, InSight Crime mapped the regions where officials had indicated more than 100 suspected and convicted drug traffickers were running.) 

Ties between suspected drug traffickers and politicians are a widespread and recurring problem even at the highest levels of government in Peru. Drug traffickers operating in Peru are thought to enjoy a great deal of official protection, and former Peruvian Interior Minister Fernando Rospigliosi told Peru 21 that at the local and regional level, candidates also rely heavily on drug traffickers to finance their electoral campaigns.

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