HomeNewsBriefAfter Drug Kingpin Arrest, What Next for Peru’s Biggest Seaport?
BRIEF

After Drug Kingpin Arrest, What Next for Peru’s Biggest Seaport?

PERU / 11 MAY 2016 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

The heirs to a recently captured Peruvian drug kingpin have reportedly already taken over criminal operations in Peru’s largest seaport, a development that speaks to the strategic importance of port cities for Latin American organized crime. 

Anti-drug police chief Luis Pantoja told El Comercio that the arrest of Gerson Aldair Gálvez Calle, alias “Caracol,” would do little to stem the flow of cocaine exports from Peru’s chief seaport, Callao. While Pantoja has previously called Caracol “the most important capture” for Peru in recent years, he told El Comercio that police “still needed to make more arrests” in order to better disrupt criminal dynamics in Callao.  

El Comercio reported that intelligence gathered by Peru’s anti-drug police indicates that Caracol’s heirs have already taken control of his drug trafficking operations in Callao, which mainly involve exporting cocaine to Europe, using Panama and Mexico as transit countries. The newspaper did not report on the identities of these heirs, nor have Peruvian security officials spoken elsewhere on the matter. 

Since Caracol was taken into custody in Colombia on April 30, various Peruvian officials have acknowledged shortcomings in the battle to break the hold of organized crime over Callao. Peru21 reported that only two percent of all departing containers in Callao are inspected by anti-drug police and port authorities. In comparison, US officials scan 99 percent of arriving sea containers with radiation detection. A top prosecutor for the Attorney General’s Office organized crime unit has also bemoaned the lack of intelligence work on the criminal groups active in Callao. 

InSight Crime Analysis

In some ways, Peruvian officials have painted Caracol as a one-of-a-kind violent mobster, who was not only able to successfully exert control over Callao but also planned to turn his street gang, Barrio Kings, into a transnational drug trafficking operation. “Peru has never had drug cartels, but he had every intention to establish the first,” anti-drug police chief Pantoja told La Republica

SEE ALSO:  Peru News and Profiles

However, arguably one of the most significant lessons that Peruvian officials could draw from Caracol’s rise to power is that another entreprising street gang leader could step into his shoes. As outlined in a profile by La Republica, Caracol started out as a small-time drug dealer who was then able to move into trasnantional drug trafficking while serving time in prison. Once he was released, he formed the Barrio King gang, which engaged in a violent turf war for control of Callao, eventually prompting Peru’s president to declare a state of emergency in the area

Given Callao’s importance for Peru’s drug traffickers and smugglers, the area should remain a priority for security officials even with Caracol in prison. As has been evidenced elsewhere in Latin America, port cities tend to be among the most violent in the country, due to their strategic importance. In Colombia, for example, the port cities of Tumaco and Buenaventura are hubs for organized crime, as is Acapulco in Mexico.  

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.

Tags

Related Content

HUMAN TRAFFICKING / 10 OCT 2017

Peru's Interior Ministry has aired its first trilingual radio program to help better inform the public about human trafficking,…

ARGENTINA / 24 FEB 2016

A wide-ranging corruption investigation involving two of Brazil's largest companies has moved into the international realm following allegations against foreign…

COCA / 14 JUL 2016

Coca cultivation continues to fall in Peru in response to unprecedented eradication efforts, but this progress is undermined by the…

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…