HomeNewsBriefChemicals for Cocaine Production Hidden in Sugar and Beer in Peru
BRIEF

Chemicals for Cocaine Production Hidden in Sugar and Beer in Peru

COCA / 16 SEP 2019 BY SERGIO SAFFON EN

Peruvian authorities managed to identify close to 20 methods used to hide illegal chemical components being sent to criminal groups in the VRAEM, the country’s top cocaine-producing region.  

During operations carried out by agents from Peruvian customs (Superintendencia Nacional de Aduanas y de Administración Tributaria - SUNAT), several chemical substances used for producing narcotics were discovered hidden in a number of vehicles  headed towards the Valley of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers (Valle de los Ríos Apurímac, Ene y Mantaro - VRAEM), Perú21 reported.

Chemicals such as acetone were found inside bottles of beer, and sulfuric acid was camouflaged among sacks of sugar and agricultural fertilizers. Hydrochloric acid was found among boxes labeled as butter, and calcium hydroxide was found among vegetables. Other chemical components were found hidden inside electrical appliances like washing machines and refrigerators. All of these chemicals are used in the production of cocaine.

SEE ALSO: Peru News and Profile

Unless registered previously, Peruvian legislation prohibits the transport, storage and commercialization of chemical substances to prevent them from being used for the production of cocaine base paste or hydrochlorate. The law punishes this crime with a jail sentence of between 6 to 15 years. 

In 2019 so far, authorities have managed to confiscate more than 12.9 tons of illegal chemical substances. This is up 160 percent from the same period in 2018, when authorities seized just over 8 tons, El Peruano reported.

The VRAEM has been Peru's main coca producing region for many years, as well as a stronghold for powerful criminal groups like the Shining Path and family clans. 

For this reason, President Martin Vizcarra announced the creation of a new illicit coca crop eradication program in the region in JulyEl Comercio reported. This initiative would complement the existing VRAEM 2021 Strategy (Estrategia VRAEM 2021) which seeks to attack the drug trafficking issue from different angles. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Years of government efforts, army operations, drug seizures and arrests have had little impact on reducing the strategic importance of the VRAEM for drug traffickers. This region continues to be an operational center for every part of the cocaine production chain, from the cultivation of coca to the fabrication of the final product - cocaine. 

With the objective of combating terrorism and combating drug trafficking, the government decided to militarize the state’s strategy in the region in 2008, with the creation of the Army’s VRAEM Special Command. 

Nevertheless, 11 years later, experience suggests that these tough policies have not been effective. It is also unlikely that more seizures of chemical products entering the VRAEM will significantly impact drug trafficking dynamics. 

SEE ALSO: High-Profile Arrests Won’t Stem Cocaine Production in Peru’s VRAEM

Additionally, drug traffickers in the region have managed to find substitute chemicals and to produce certain components in their own clandestine laboratories within the jungle. Similarly, Peru’s porous borders with Colombia, Bolivia and Brazil also facilitate imports of chemical substance into this region via the same routes used for trafficking drugs. 

The obstacles inside the VRAEM are plentiful. In addition to the geographical difficulties of accessing the region, family clans dedicated to drug trafficking hold major sway and often enjoy protection from armed groups, including elements from the Shining Path.

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.

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

AUC / 9 FEB 2021

Operation ‘Tiburón Galloway’ began as a local investigation by prosecutors in the Italian region of Calabria in 2001, but quickly…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 25 FEB 2021

Located on Paraguay’s border with Brazil, Canindeyú is a key criminal hub in the tri-border area.

COCAINE / 1 DEC 2021

Irish authorities have made a string of large cocaine seizures this year, amid signs the island is becoming increasingly important…

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…