HomeNewsBriefColombian Crime Groups Export Loan Sharking to Peru
BRIEF

Colombian Crime Groups Export Loan Sharking to Peru

COLOMBIA / 17 OCT 2016 BY MIKE LASUSA EN

Authorities in Peru are warning about the involvement of Colombian crime groups in loan sharking, suggesting these organizations are expanding their participation in this activity outside of their home country.

In an article published by La República on October 16, police officials told the news outlet that investigations have detected a criminal activity known as "gota a gota" (drop by drop) in nearly 100 cities across Peru, and that authorities have linked some of these operations to Colombian crime groups like the Urabeños, the Oficina de Envigado and La Empresa.

Agents from the Criminal Investigation Directorate (Dirección de Investigación Criminal - DIRINCRI) told La República that "gota a gota" consists of lending small sums of money at high interest rates -- sometimes up to 100 percent -- to people who have trouble obtaining traditional loans, like small business owners, housewives, and students.

"Gota a gota" loans are usually made on a short-term basis, and repayment is typically expected within 20 days. If borrowers fail to pay back the loan and the accumulated interest, the lenders often threaten, beat or even kill the debtors.

"These subjects, when they first engage with the customers, appear friendly and sympathetic in order to ingratiate themselves with the clients," said Luis Montoya, the former director general of Peru's National Police (Policía Nacional del Perú - PNP). "However, when [borrowers] are slow to pay, they are first threatened and even beaten and [the lenders] begin to operate as true mafias."

Colombian law enforcement has detected "gota a gota" operations in more than 180 municipalities in that country, and similar operations run by Colombian crime groups have been uncovered in several other nations throughout Latin America, including Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador and Honduras.

InSight Crime Analysis

Loan sharking activities like "gota a gota" hold a number of attractions for Colombian criminal organizations. For one, these schemes allow crime groups to launder the proceeds of other illegal activities in a way that earns them further profits. And expanding these activities to other countries makes illicit financial flows even harder for authorities to detect.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Money Laundering

As InSight Crime has previously pointed out, this relatively low-risk criminal activity fills a real void for the majority of Latin American citizens who lack access to formal banking. However, this illicit business is often accompanied by violence, and it helps feed the coffers of criminal organizations that engage in even more nefarious activities.

The Peruvian-Colombian criminal nexus dates back decades; former Peruvian spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos sold weapons to Colombian rebel group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC) in the late 1990s

Still, the expansion of grass-roots criminal activities such as "gota a gota" in Peru and other countries in Latin America could serve as another indication of a pattern InSight Crime has previously highlighted: the migration of Colombian criminals throughout the region. Not only are Colombian crime organizations apparently attempting to evade increased pressure from law enforcement in their home country, they also seem to be seeking control over key criminal economies abroad.

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

CYBERCRIME / 21 JUN 2013

Need someone rubbed out but stuck for contacts? Just head to Facebook. According to an investigation by a Peruvian…

COLOMBIA / 21 FEB 2017

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos said the FARC guerrillas have completed their transition into special concentration zones, but questions remain…

COLOMBIA / 18 APR 2012

Reports that the head of Colombia’s most powerful drug cartel, the Rastrojos, has surrendered to US authorities are false, according…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…