HomeNewsAnalysisPeru’s Shining Path Expand Reach, Ties to Drug Trafficking
ANALYSIS

Peru’s Shining Path Expand Reach, Ties to Drug Trafficking

PERU / 8 FEB 2011 BY JEREMY MCDERMOTT EN

The game of cat and mouse between the Peruvian security forces and the country’s chief rebel group may be having the perverse effect of forcing the guerrillas into the arms of organized crime.

The Shining Path, under pressure in their strongholds from army offensives, have spread out their forces and deepened their ties to drug trafficking, continuing to deliver their Communist message to the remoter hamlets and villages of the Peruvian highlands.

An article in the Peruvian daily El Comercio looks at how the most belligerent of the two remaining Shining Path (or ‘Sendero Luminoso’ in Spanish) factions, led by aliases ‘José’ and ‘Raul’ (believed to be brothers with the surnames Quispe Palomino), has expanded its reach beyond the Apurimac and Ene river valley (Valle de los Rios Apurimac y Ene – VRAE) in the departments of Ayacucho and Apurimac, and been spotted in the department of Junin further north.

The El Comercio article is complemented by another published in La Republica, dealing with an alleged money laundering network based around the VRAE, with links to the Shining Path, showing how the rebels tentacles are stretching out and interwining with organized crime.

The VRAE is home to some of the densest cultivations of coca in Peru and the heart of much of the country’s drug trafficking. Peru is seeing an increase in coca cultivation, as it threatens to dislodge Colombia from its position as the world’s number one producer of cocaine. In 2008 coca production increased 4.5 percent while it dropped 18 percent in Colombia, according to United Nations figures. The U.S. government statistics (from the 2010 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report) have Peru producing 225 tons of cocaine in 2009, compared with 270 tons in Colombia.

The new reach of the Shining Path has also allowed the rebels to diversify the routes they use to smuggle cocaine out of the Peruvian highlands on their way down to the Pacific Coast, where shipments are bought by the Mexican drug cartels and smuggled northwards through the Pacific. The article reveals how the Shining Path rebels escort shipments across stretches of Peru, charging drug traffickers up to $30 a kilo. The rebel columns are not only marching through the mountainous terrain but have access to vehicles and are able to cover large distances quickly.

Another effect of the army offensives against the rebels has been to force them to better arm and equip themselves, using the proceeds from drug trafficking to buy weapons on the black market.· Police intelligence sources are cited tracking more than 100 rifles (mostly AKMs, the upgrade of the basic AK-47 Kalashnikovs produced in the 1960s) and some rocket-propelled grenades used to target military helicopters, one of which was hit in 2009 in Santo Domingo de Acobamba (Huancayo province).

While the Shining Path deepen their links with drug trafficking organizations, it seems they have not abandoned their ideology or political work.· There are regular seizures of Shining Path propaganda material, while the hammer and sickle is to be seen daubed on huts around the Upper Huallaga and VRAE.

It is also clear that the Sendero faction in the VRAE is growing in strength and sophistication thanks to involvement in the drug trade, mimicking the position taken by both Colombian rebels groups, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) and the National Liberation Army (Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional – ELN)

The goverment has had some success against the Shining Path but principally against the faction entrenched in the Upper Huallaga Valley (in the northern department of San Martin, commanded by alias ‘Artemio’ (whose real name is believed to be Florindo Eleuterio Flores), and not against those based in the VRAE.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

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

ARGENTINA / 17 JUL 2017

On the surface, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's 9-year sentence for corruption seems reminiscent of numerous corruption…

COCA / 4 SEP 2020

Yet again, Peruvian security forces are seeking to force Shining Path guerrillas out a jungle region that produces most of…

COLOMBIA / 2 MAY 2016

Colombian authorities have detained and deported one of Peru's most sought-after criminal suspects, signaling a potential shake-up in the Peruvian…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…