A Brazilian town bordering Peru and Colombia is now almost entirely dedicated to drug trafficking, according to Peruvian authorities, highlighting the strategic importance of the often overlooked Amazon tri-border region.
Peruvian police claimed that 90 percent of the inhabitants of Tabatinga, which is located in the west of the state of Amazonas, are directly or indirectly involved in the drug trade, reported La Republica.
The presence of drug trafficking groups has led to growing violence, as Brazilian and Peruvian criminals dispute territory, according to the authorities.
Tabatinga lies in the so-called "Amazonian Trapezoid," which covers the tri-border area of Tabatinga, Santa Rosa in Peru and Leticia in Colombia, and extends to the Peruvian city of Iquitos further to the west.
InSight Crime Analysis
The Amazonian Trapezoid is becoming a key territory for drug trafficking, as well as for other smuggling activities such as arms trafficking.
This is partly because of the "balloon effect," where pressure from the Colombian security forces has led to a drug trafficking migration into the calmer territories in Peru and Brazil, according to the authorities.
However, it is primarily because of its location, a point of convergence between two of the principal cocaine producer countries, Colombia and Peru, and the region's biggest consumer market, Brazil, which is also a major drug transshipment point.
The tri-border area is isolated jungle terrain, which has attracted the presence of coca cultivation, while the borders between the cities are also almost non-existent and border controls light, making it easy to move from one country to another undetected.
These advantages have attracted criminals from all three countries. Recently, Peruvian and Brazilian authorities destroyed three cocaine laboratories on the Peruvian side of the border, which they said were run by Colombians, reported La Republica.
InSight Crime field research revealed evidence that Russian criminals are also operating in the region. The Russians appear to be attempting to secure a drug supply closer to the source, then trafficking it through Brazil from where it can be moved to Europe and Russia.