Two Lima gangs have reignited their struggle for control of the city's extortion rackets, according to Peruvian media, prompting fears of a rise in violence in the country's capital.
The recent killing of a 63-year-old mechanic in Lima was allegedly a result of inter-gang rivalry between a group known as the "Noles" and their rivals, the "Malditos de Castilla," (Damned of Castilla). The victim was mistakenly assassinated during an attempt on the life of Wilbur Castillo Sanchez, the alleged head of the Malditos de Castilla, reported La Republica. Two alleged members of the Noles were subsequently arrested, but have since been freed, with the judge citing a lack of evidence.
According to La Republica, the latest homicide points to the re-emergence of the conflict between the two gangs over control of extortion networks in Lima. The rackets focus predominantly on construction, though they also include schools and retail companies.
Some 17 members of the two gangs have been murdered since 2008, when the Noles reportedly killed the leader of the Damned of Castilla, Wilson Pedro Mesias, alias "Pedrito."
InSight Crime Analysis
Peru's government has said that there are some 13,000 gang members in the country, most based in Lima. These gangs are mostly thought to be neighborhood-based, and focused on crimes like extortion, robbery, kidnapping and hired killings, with only limited contact with international drug trafficking networks.
As InSight Crime noted last year, Peru has rolled out community-based schemes to deal with the gang problem. The latest clashes between the groups could suggest that these have not gone far enough yet.
Recent reports in the Peruvian media have noted that taxi extortion mafias based in the city of Trujillo have extended their extortion networks as far as Lima.