Two hundred police officers are under investigation for ties to a criminal network allegedly led by a retired colonel, in the latest example of officials being accused of playing a central role in facilitating organized crime in Peru.
On September 15, the Peruvian Interior Ministry announced that around 200 police officials would be suspended while authorities investigated them for collaborating with a criminal organization which they suspect is led by retired Colonel Benedicto Jimenez and businessman Rodolfo Orellana, reported El Comercio.
The police officers were listed in the contact books of the criminal organization, along with their telephone numbers and units, reported La Republica. They included members of the police's anti-drug, criminal investigation, anti-corruption, and anti-money laundering units.
The contact books were discovered in a July search of the offices of Juez Justo -- a magazine run by Orellana that was reportedly dedicated to the defamation of authorities who investigated crimes committed by his organization -- but the results of the search were only recently made public.
Jimenez and Orellana have been accused of running a criminal network dedicated to money laundering that swindled the government out of large sums of money. The network was also allegedly involved in human trafficking, prostitution, and trafficking of land titles, according to La Republica.
InSight Crime Analysis
The current investigations serve as just the latest examples in a long list of Peruvian officials and law enforcement personnel accused of links to organized crime. Three recent presidents, as well as numerous congressmen, mayors and governors, have been implicated in criminal activity, and 115 candidates in Peru's upcoming October elections have been investigated for links to drug trafficking. Numerous police officers have also been caught collaborating with criminal groups, including at least one police chief arrested last year.
SEE ALSO: Peru News and Profiles
There are indications the criminal network led by Jimenez and Orellana was able to penetrate government institutions beyond the national police. In addition to the 200 police officials under investigation, two congressmen have also been accused of having ties to Orellana, one of whom appears in a video attending a private party with Orellana and Jimenez.
Jimenez's apparent fall from grace is especially noteworthy because he was one of the heroes of Peru's fight against the Shining Path guerrilla group. As the head of a special intelligence unit in the country's anti-terrorism agency in the early 1990s, Jimenez was instrumental in the operation that led to the capture of Shining Path leader Abimael Guzman.