HomeNewsAnalysisPeru General 'Supplied Fuel to Drug Traffickers'
ANALYSIS

Peru General 'Supplied Fuel to Drug Traffickers'

PERU / 14 JUL 2011 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

In a development which illustrates the complexities of Peru’s struggle against drug trafficking, several high-ranking soldiers have been charged with selling drug precursor chemicals to a businessman, who in turn sold them to traffickers.

Fredy Marcelo, the owner of a chain of gas stations in the country’s remote Apurímac and Ene River Valley (VRAE) region was arrested in February after being charged with selling kerosene illegally. The government has recently cracked down on sales of the fuel in this region, a key location for coca growing, because it is commonly used to process cocaine. However, according to a special investigation by news program 24 Horas, although he claimed it was kerosene, investigators discovered that the chemical was actually Jet A-1 fuel, which is used to power aircraft like the helicopters the army uses to patrol the region.

Marcelo’s legal defense team now claims that he purchased the fuel from a military technician, with permission from the military chief of the VRAE, General Benigno Cabrera. As La Republica reports, Peru’s anti-drug prosecutor Erwin Rojas Trujillo is investigating at least 12 members of the military in connection with the scandal.

Although the allegations are alarming, they are not necessarily anything new. As InSight Crime has reported, a November 2009 diplomatic memo released by the whistle-blowing organization WikiLeaks alleges that the Peruvian army is extensively involved in drug trafficking, and has been for some time, especially in the VRAE. According to the cable, officers are routinely given fuel by the military command as a means of boosting their pay.

"Officers are officially provided periodic fuel allotments, usually more than can be reasonably consumed, and consider this a perquisite that complements their base salary," the cable claims. It also maintains that a military base in the country’s north allowed Mexican drug trafficking organizations to use the facility -- including its military vehicles -- to ship cocaine to a port controlled by the navy. At the port, the drugs were hidden in fishing boats and sent northward.

As a result of the entrenched level of collusion between elements of the military and organized crime, drug trafficking in the country is extremely difficult to target. As is the case in many other Latin American countries, the military in Peru has long held a privileged social status, and is rarely held accountable by the justice system for abuses of power.

Because of the military's impunity, it is not surprising that Fredy Marcelo is seeking police protection after making his accusations. According to El Comercio, the businessman had been intimidated into not divulging details of the case, and had kept quiet because he feared for his life.

A video of the initial 24 Horas investigation (in Spanish) is available below.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

GENDER AND CRIME / 11 MAR 2019

Authorities in Peru have launched a largescale operation aimed at driving out illegal gold mining and other illicit activities…

BOLIVIA / 3 JAN 2018

Cocaine is one of the world’s most in-demand drugs. Its production center is in the Andean region of Colombia, Peru…

COCA / 11 JUN 2021

In arguably the most polarizing election Peru has seen in its history, voters have selected, by a razor-thin margin, a…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…

THE ORGANIZATION

Backing Investigative Journalism Around the Globe

5 NOV 2021

InSight Crime was a proud supporter of this year's Global Investigative Journalism Conference, which took place November 1 through November 5 and convened nearly 2,000 journalists…

THE ORGANIZATION

Tracking Dirty Money and Tren de Aragua

29 OCT 2021

InSight Crime was delighted to support investigative reporting in the Americas through a workshop with our friends at Connectas, a non-profit journalism initiative that facilitates collaboration…