Peru’s authorities are investigating former members of the armed forces for using military property as the base for a cocaine trafficking ring, a striking display of corruption within an institution that has been put in charge of leading the fight against drug trafficking.
Authorities have accused one retired army captain and a former cadet of using the Jésus María hotel in the district of Lima to store illicit drugs for the smuggling ring they ran, reported Perú21. The hotel is a space reserved for former and active military personnel.
The investigation into the trafficking ring was reportedly launched in June 2016, after a suspect who was arrested with nearly 40 kilos of cocaine admitted that the drugs came from the facility.
The Attorney General’s Office say that the owner of the drug shipment was retired Army Captain Paul Alexander Bobadilla Retamal, according to America TV. The former captain would allegedly rent a room in order to store the drugs there.
Of the seven total suspects, five have so far been arrested. Bobadilla, the alleged leader of the trafficking ring, was apprehended at El Dorado airport in Bogotá, Colombia while attempting to flee. He is expected to be extradited back to Peru, according to El Comercio.
InSight Crime Analysis
Although the dismantled network appears to have only moved small quantities of cocaine, the arrests are significant because of what they potentially say about a culture of corruption within the Peruvian military. If a former high-ranking officer felt comfortable storing cocaine on military property, it would not be a stretch to think that active personnel might be involved in more serious corruption schemes while in the field.
Indeed, a 2015 report by the Associated Press found that every day an average of four drug flights leave Peru’s principal coca-producing region, known as the VRAEM, which is supposedly being monitored by the military. Both US and Peruvian authorities pointed to corruption as a principal cause for the seemingly unchecked drug trafficking operations in the region. Having the military in control of the region’s drug interdiction efforts is “like putting four street dogs to guard a plate of beefsteak,” one retired army general told the AP.
SEE ALSO: Peru News and Profile
Peru temporarily lifted a long-standing state of emergency in the VRAEM in 2015, but re-implemented it in October 2016. This measure once again placed the military at the helm of the fight against drug trafficking in the region.