Peru remained the world’s top potential producer of cocaine for the third consecutive year, and was the second-largest cultivator of coca, with an estimated 50,500 hectares (ha) of coca under cultivation in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available. The majority of cocaine produced in Peru is transported to South American countries for domestic consumption, or for onward shipment to Europe, East Asia, and Mexico via private and commercial aircraft, and land and maritime conveyances. Peru is a major importer of precursor chemicals used for cocaine production.
President Ollanta Humala dedicated substantial resources to implement Peru’s 2012-2016 counternarcotics strategy. The strategy calls for a 200 percent increase in the eradication of illicit coca by 2016. The Government of Peru remains on pace to meet its ambitious targets in this area, and in 2013 eradicated in the Monzón River Valley, a hostile area with little state presence, for the first time in decades. Sendero Luminoso (SL or Shining Path) operating in the Apurimac-Ene-Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM) relied on cocaine trafficking for funding, and killed and wounded several police and military personnel during counternarcotics operations.
Domestic consumption of illicit drugs is growing, particularly in urban areas east of the Andes. The number of treatment centers falls short of what is needed to treat the estimated 32,000 to 45,000 cocaine addicts and an even larger number of marijuana addicts nationwide. Peruvians were increasingly concerned about the impact of drug trafficking and abuse on citizen security, political stability, and the nation’s youth; the environmental damage of illicit drug production; and the impact of corruption on democratic institutions.
B. Drug Control Accomplishments, Policies, and Trends
1. Institutional Development
The Peruvian government’s counternarcotics strategy includes ambitious goals for eradication, interdiction, and alternative development, and addresses associated issues such as the control of precursor chemicals, organized crime, money laundering, and the rule of law. The Humala Administration increased its counternarcotics budget from $220 million in 2012 to $256 million in 2013. For the first time, Peru contributed $11.6 million towards eradication efforts and concomitant aviation support, which historically has been funded by the United States.
To counteract the increasing use of private aircraft transporting drugs, the police created a tactical unit based in Lima targeting clandestine runways for destruction. This group destroyed 110 clandestine runways throughout the country in 2013, compared to six clandestine runways in 2012. Law enforcement sources estimate that each illicit flight transports between 250 and 400 kilograms (kg) of cocaine.
The Public Ministry, Peruvian National Police (PNP), and Judiciary provide limited training on the New Criminal Procedure Code (NCPC), which transitions the legal system from an inquisitorial to an accusatory system. No new judicial districts implemented the NCPC during 2013; the number of districts operating under the NCPC remained at 23 of an overall 31. Nationwide implementation is expected by the end of 2014, with Lima anticipated to be the final (and largest) judicial district to implement the code. The NCPC has been applied to corruption cases nationwide since June 2011. With the passage of a new law to combat organized crime in August, the NCPC also applies to these cases regardless of district.
The bilateral extradition treaty between the United States and Peru entered into force in 2003. Peruvian law requires individuals to serve sentences and probation in Peru before becoming eligible for extradition. Peruvian authorities now request credit for prisoners’ time served in Peru when granting extraditions to the United States.
2. Supply Reduction
The U.S. government estimates that 50,500 ha of coca were under cultivation in Peru in 2012, a two percent increase from the 2011 estimate of 49,500 ha. The United Nations, using a different methodology, estimated 60,400 ha of cultivation in 2012, a three percent decrease from its 2011 estimate of 62,500 ha. The UN assesses for the first time that Peru is the largest cultivator of coca and producer of cocaine. The U.S. government’s 2012 estimate for potential pure cocaine production dropped to 290 metric tons (MT), a five percent decrease from 2011; the 2012 estimate of potential export-quality cocaine held stable at 375 MT from the previous year (after 2011 estimates were revised).
In 2013, the Peruvian government eradication agency, CORAH, focused on Peru’s San Martin, Huánuco, and Pasco regions, which encompass the Monzón River Valley. Peru eradicated an unprecedented 23,785 ha of illicit coca in 2013, exceeding the 14,171 ha eradicated the previous year. Law enforcement destroyed 311 maceration pits found at eradication sites, far exceeding the 142 pits found in 2012. Plans are underway to eradicate in the VRAEM, a region accounting for as much as 40 percent of Peru’s total 2012 potential pure cocaine production.
DIRANDRO, the police anti-drug unit, received an $11 million budget in 2013, down from $13 million in 2012. This unit reported moderate decreases in drug seizures in 2013 – 24.3 MT of cocaine (including 11 MT of cocaine base and 13.3 MT of HCl cocaine). DIRANDRO also seized 3.7 MT of marijuana, and destroyed 869 cocaine laboratories and seized 13.9 MT of coca leaf in the UHV and the VRAEM.
Peru produces precursor chemicals, such as sulfuric acid, and is a major importer of other essential chemicals for cocaine production. DIRANDRO’s Precursor Chemical Unit, DEPCIQ, reported significant increases in the seizure of precursor chemicals – from 1,930 MT in 2012 to 2,240 MT in 2013. Increased riverine interdictions in the Ucayali and Loreto regions, as well as ongoing interdiction operations on major roads east of the Andes assisted by two U.S.-donated backscatter x-ray scanners, are responsible for much of this increase.
Small aircraft carrying shipments of cocaine from Peru to Bolivia now constitutes the primary method of transporting cocaine. These aircraft were believed to have transported between 150 MT and 180 MT of cocaine out of Peru in 2013; law enforcement estimates that maritime smuggling through the Eastern Pacific accounts for roughly 115 MT. Roughly a third of that amount is transported to Ecuador by land before onward shipment by sea. Peruvian, Colombian, and, increasingly, Mexican traffickers maintain sophisticated networks to ship cocaine to Europe, East Asia, Mexico, the Caribbean, the United States, and other Western Hemisphere countries. Peru and the United States exercise maritime operational procedures that enable U.S. authorities to board Peruvian flagged vessels in international waters. In joint investigations with U.S. law enforcement, DIRANDRO identified and disrupted major international cocaine trafficking organizations using maritime and air conveyances to ship cocaine for export.
In July, Peruvian law enforcement arrested 24 nationals for cocaine trafficking offenses and providing material support to the Shining Path. Of note were the inclusion of a former Congresswoman and members of the Coca Farmers Union. In August, Peruvian law enforcement and Armed Forces killed three Shining Path terrorists – including Comrades Alipio and Gabriel, two of the organization’s top military commanders – delivering a tremendous blow to the organization in the VRAEM. Gabriel was responsible for shooting down a U.S.-owned helicopter in April 2012, killing the PNP co-pilot and wounding the crew chief.
The PNP also conducted successful investigations resulting in the seizure of financial assets. The heads of the organization were charged with laundering of drug trafficking proceeds and financing terrorism. A second case involved the seizure of $5 million in assets from a known drug trafficker. Peruvian authorities, however, struggle to effectively manage and dispose of these assets once in custody, or to obtain convictions for money laundering offenses.
3. Drug Abuse Awareness, Demand Reduction, and Treatment
Drug abuse in Peru is increasing, particularly along drug trafficking routes in mid-size cities east of the Andes. The most recent study from DEVIDA (“National Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs”), Peru’s counternarcotics policy agency, indicates that 80,000-90,000 youth use an illicit substance for the first time each year. Marijuana accounts for the majority of drug use, with cocaine paste and cocaine hydrochloride a distant second and third.
DEVIDA continues to provide a drug counseling services hotline and implemented its “Strong Families Program,” an awareness program for parents and children aged 10-14. DEVIDA has a budget of $13.1 million for drug abuse prevention and rehabilitation, and provides funding to local governments for drug awareness and prevention campaigns nationwide.
Public treatment facilities in Peru provide 160 beds for drug addicts requiring services. There are private treatment centers in urban areas, but many suffer from a shortage of trained staff. Peru has approximately 300 “therapeutic community centers” (a group-based approach to drug addiction treatment) nationwide, but the majority of these centers are unregulated and often run by former addicts with no formal training. Only 43 such centers are registered. There are no rehabilitation centers or clinics specifically designed to treat adolescents, women, or their children. Only 15 of 80 prisons nationwide offer treatment programs for inmates.
As a matter of policy, the Government of Peru does not encourage or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. Nonetheless, corruption remains a concern.
According to a 2013 national survey, 58 percent of Peruvians believe corruption is the primary challenge facing Peru’s public administration. Peruvians believe the Congress (55 percent), the Police (53 percent), and the Judiciary (49 percent) are the entities with the highest levels of corruption. Of those surveyed who interacted with the police and the Judiciary, 44 percent and 32 percent respectively report having paid bribes. Widely covered corruption scandals, including former presidents and other high level officials, contribute to a general sense of distrust of public officials.
The Peruvian government took important steps to improve transparency around public infrastructure projects and public administration performance in 2013. These efforts include a new civil service law approved in July, which implements performance-based evaluation standards.
C. National Goals, Bilateral Cooperation, and U.S. Policy Initiatives
The United States funds projects to support the Peruvian counternarcotics strategy through training, technical assistance, intelligence, and the targeted provision of equipment through international organizations, non-governmental implementers, and the Government of Peru. A primary focus of U.S. interagency support is to enhance the capacity of the Peruvian police and military to effectively counter Shining Path’s drug trafficking and terrorist activities in the VRAEM.
Peru regularly participates in the U.S.-sponsored Multilateral Counterdrug Summit. The goal of these summits, which include 12 participants from Central and South America, is to identify and implement cooperative measures to combat maritime drug trafficking and improve prosecution of maritime trafficking cases.
To reduce dependence on illicit coca cultivation, the United States partners with Peru to implement alternative development projects in recently eradicated areas. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) coordinated the U.S. approach and promoted farmer participation in the cacao, coffee, and palm oil industries, helping increase productivity and quality to raise incomes in San Martin, Huánuco, and Ucayali. U.S. assistance supported over 17,000 families with the cultivation of over 30,000 ha of alternative crops in 2013.
The Government of Peru has demonstrated increasingly strong political will to address drug production and trafficking in Peru, both through funding a significant share of eradication operations for the first time and through its successful operations in the VRAEM to bring down high-ranking members of Shining Path. The U.S. partnership with Peru and its support in implementing the government’s counternarcotics strategy remain critical in combating the production and trafficking of cocaine.