HomeNewsBriefFrom Rags to Riches to a Prison in Peru: One Drug Trafficker's Story
BRIEF

From Rags to Riches to a Prison in Peru: One Drug Trafficker's Story

COCA / 14 AUG 2015 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

The account of one drug trafficker's criminal history in Peru's tri-river valley known as the VRAEM is emblematic of how the cocaine trade works in the country's biggest coca-growing region. 

The trafficker who would eventually earn over $100,000 per drug shipment started in the cocaine business at age 12, making $300 a month collecting coca leaves in Peru's Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro River Valleys (VRAEM) region. "Sacha Mono," as he is identified in an interview with La Republica, soon realized he occupied the lowest rung in the drug supply chain, and sought to increase his income. 

Once Sacha Mono saved up enough money, he opened his own coca maceration pit -- where the first steps in cocaine production take place -- and saw his earnings jump to $3,200 per month. Sacha Mono eventually started supplying coca base to one of the "most respected and feared" drug traffickers operating along the Peru-Bolivia border. At that point, Sancha Mono says he was being paid $1,500 per kilo -- making almost $700,000 per year. With just a basic education, Sacha Mono had made it big in the drug trade. 

"I changed 4x4 trucks like I changed my shirts," Sacha Mono told La Republica. "Like magic, my life had changed."

But the good times would not last. One day while working in his maceration pit, police officers swooped in and arrested him. Although Sacha Mono has since completed his prison sentence, his life is now a shadow of what it once was. 

"I was left even poorer and my family has left me," he said.

InSight Crime Analysis

Sacha Mono's story is indicative of how the low and middle tiers of the drug supply chain operate in the VRAEM, Peru's most prolific coca-growing region where an estimated 200 tons of cocaine are produced each year.

What is perhaps most surprising, however, is that he was caught at all. Indeed, the VRAEM is considered a stronghold of guerrilla group the Shining Path, and the Peruvian government has long struggled to establish a strong state presence in the region. 

SEE ALSO: Peru News and Profiles

While President Ollanta Humala recently declared drug traffickers no longer constitute a "parallel power" in the VRAEM, the region has yet to see a decline in coca production -- despite significant decreases in many other parts of Peru. This is perhaps due to the government abandoning its forced coca eradication program in the VRAEM in June 2014 due to security risks posed by 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.

Tags

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

PERU / 2 SEP 2013

“Camarada Olga” is apparently the new military commander of the Shining Path guerrillas, the first woman to hold the post,…

DRUG POLICY / 28 MAR 2012

With its new four-year anti-drug strategy, Peru is moving towards a less tolerant position on coca, ramping up eradication targets…

PERU / 2 MAR 2015

Police in Peru have shot down a drug plane in the notorious VRAEM region, in a move that signals the…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…