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

BOLIVIA / 8 NOV 2022

The Amazon is one of the world’s most biodiverse regions, where wildlife trafficking threatens hundreds of thousands of species.

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 2 JUN 2022

While there are some efforts to build resilience, including the passing of new legislative frameworks and some other signs of…

CARTEL OF THE SUNS / 1 SEP 2022

InSight Crime charts the history of cocaine from agricultural extract to the basis of global criminal empires.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…