Peru Ups Contraband Seizures

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Peru reported seizing $379 million in pirated and contraband material in 2014, highlighting the extent of this illicit trade in the Andean country.

The reported value of the seized material was released by the vice minister of the agency which oversees small businesses in Peru.

The figure represents a $40 million increase over what authorities confiscated in 2013 and a $200 million increase of what was confiscated in 2012.

“Roughly 70 percent of what’s being seized is contraband and the remaining 30 percent is pirated material,” Adolfo Bernui, the technical secretary of Peru’s anti-piracy and contraband commission, told InSight Crime. 

Pirated materials largely consist of software and entertainment goods such as DVDs and music. Contraband materials are usually goods like clothing, liquor and cigarettes that have not been taxed or cleared through Peruvian customs, the official said.

Smuggled fuel also makes up a large part of seized contraband. Smugglers purchase government-subsidized fuel in neighboring Bolivia and Ecuador, smuggle it into Peru and sell it at profit, Bernui explained.

A mix of individuals and small groups, as well as organized crime networks, are responsible for Peru’s piracy and smuggling industry, the official said. Organized criminal groups run caravans of vehicles carrying contraband, known as “snakes,”  from Bolivia into southern Peruvian states like Puno, Bernui added.

InSight Crime Analysis

The nearly $400 million worth of contraband and pirated goods seized in Peru is another example of the scale of this trade across Central and South America. In Costa Rica, for example, government officials recently said they consider contraband a bigger problem than drug trafficking. And as appears to be the case in Peru, it is not only large-scale criminal groups making a profit off of contraband, but individual operators who have few other economic options

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Contraband

There have been huge seizures of contraband reported in Peru, indication that larger, organized criminal groups are involved in the trade, including a raid last July in which Peruvian police confiscated about 220 tons of contraband goods with estimated value of $2 million. Those goods were moved in one of the “snake” caravans that transfer goods between Bolivia and Peru, where the southeastern city of Juliaca serves as a major hub for shipping the products elsewhere in the country.

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