The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores.
According to the latest U.S. government figures, Peru is the second largest producer of cocaine and cultivator of coca in the world, with an estimated 72,000 hectares (ha) of coca under cultivation in 2019. The majority of cocaine produced in Peru is transported to South American countries for domestic consumption, or for onward shipment to Europe, the United States, East Asia, and Mexico. Peruvians view security and corruption as the country’s most pressing problems and often list the Judiciary, Congress, and the Peruvian National Police (PNP) as the country’s most corrupt institutions. Corruption scandals have ensnarled many of Peru’s political figures, including former Presidents, members of Congress, regional governors, ministry officials, and judges.
INL partners with the Government of Peru to help build expertise on counternarcotics and law enforcement and to reduce the production and trafficking of cocaine from Peru. Additionally, INL seeks to mitigate the impact of transnational crime and increase citizen security through the strengthening of Peru’s criminal justice system and the rule of law. The United States and Peru are strong bilateral partners, and the United States actively supports the Government of Peru’s comprehensive five-year counternarcotics strategy to aggressively eradicate illicit coca, implement alternative development programs, interdict illicit narcotics, and reduce domestic drug abuse.
Together, the United States and Peru are producing results:
- Enabling Counternarcotics Operations: Following a pause trigged by the COVID-19 pandemic, the government of Peru was able to begin 2020 eradication operations in October, and by the end of the calendar year, eradicated a total of 6,273 (ha). In 2019, Peru manually eradicated 25,526 ha of coca, exceeding the annual goal and removing an estimated 220 metric tons (MT) of potential cocaine from the market. Peru eradicated coca for the first time in the Valley of Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro River (VRAEM) in 2019, the source of two-thirds of the cocaine produced in Peru. In 2018 and 2017, the Peruvian government also met its goals, eradicating 25,106 ha and 30,150 ha, respectively. INL Lima’s aviation assets and facilities support the Peruvian government in interdiction, eradication, and other counternarcotics priorities.
- Countering Financial Crimes: Asset forfeiture is one of the most powerful and inexpensive law enforcement tools available to counter the organized criminal groups that fuel drug trafficking, corruption, and violence. Since 2017, INL’s asset forfeiture mentoring program has resulted in authorities seizing over $26 million in illicitly-derived assets.
- Supporting the Police to Ensure Safer Communities: Responding to an increase in violence in the port region of Callao in 2015, the Peruvian National Police (PNP), with the support of INL, began a Model Police Station (MPS) program that serves as a platform to implement PNP community policing strategies and intelligence-led policing. The area has seen a three percent decrease in violent crimes during 2019, compared to 2018, and residents report a perception of improved citizen security.
- Countering Illicit Gold: Illicit gold mining has negative human, health, environmental, and criminal implications. INL provides training, mentoring, and technical assistance to strengthen Peru’s capacity to investigate and prosecute financial and environmental crimes related to illegal gold mining. In January 2020, INL supported a forensic laboratory in Madre de Dios, the epicenter of Peru’s illegal gold mining industry. The equipment, the first of it’s kind outside of Lima, will detect mercury and map crime scenes in virtual reality, allowing Peruvian prosecutors to more quickly gather evidence and build a case against perpetrators.