HomeNewsBrief‘Most Wanted’ Peru Drug Trafficker Captured in Brazil
BRIEF

'Most Wanted' Peru Drug Trafficker Captured in Brazil

BOLIVIA / 26 SEP 2017 BY TRISTAN CLAVEL EN

The arrest in Brazil of a wanted drug trafficker from Peru who was on the run for more than a decade illustrates how trafficking dynamics have evolved in Peru's coca-producing areas, and points to shifts in the transnational cocaine trade in South America.

Adrián Velarde Huamaní, alias "Chato Adrián," one of Peru's most-wanted drug traffickers, was arrested in Brazil's capital city Brasilia on September 21, Peru's Interior Ministry announced in a September 25 press release.

Velarde first appeared on authorities' radar following a sizeable 2007 coca paste seizure in Peru's Ayacucho region. Part of that region lies in Peru's coca cultivation hub, the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro River Valleys (VRAEM). But authorities were unable to arrest the suspected capo, who was apparently protected by local inhabitants at the time of the operation.

Other seizures followed, and by 2011 Velarde's organization was also on the radar of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). According to investigative journalism outlet IDL-Reporteros, Velarde was one of the top players in the VRAEM, capable of moving at least 300 kilograms of coca paste each month.

Reports suggest Velarde moved most of the coca paste to Bolivia, where it was refined into cocaine and later shipped abroad. By 2015, Velarde and his associates had reportedly fled Peru for Bolivia, where they continued to manage drug operations. It remains unclear how long he was in Brazil or why he was there at the time of his arrest.

InSight Crime Analysis

Velarde seems to be a product of the era that saw coca cultivation in the VRAEM grow to the point that Peru overtook Colombia as the world's top coca producer in 2013. (Colombia has since regained the top spot.) But given recent important shifts in trafficking dynamics, Velarde's arrest also points to uncertainty concerning the VRAEM's current criminal landscape.

Interestingly, Velarde's organization does not appear to have exploited the famous air bridge between the VRAEM and neighboring Bolivia that long stood at the heart of Peruvian trafficking dynamics. But the group's operation did follow the well-established pattern of moving coca paste to Bolivia, where the product was processed into cocaine before being sent to consumer markets. And Velarde was also part of a trend of the VRAEM's most powerful drug clans eventually moving to manage operations from Bolivia.

It is unclear, however, whether Velarde was a wholesale supplier of product for distributors targeting the Brazilian cocaine market -- now the second largest throughout the Americas -- or whether the cocaine was meant to be shipped from Brazil to Europe.

SEE ALSO: Peru News and Profiles

Velarde's arrest also points to important shifts in trafficking dynamics. In addition to the arrest of several top VRAEM drug traffickers, the region's coca cultivation levels have dropped in recent years. Nevertheless, the fluid landscape could open the door for new groups to attempt to assert control in the area.

An official Brazilian intelligence report released earlier this year said that the powerful Brazilian gang known as the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital - PCC) is expanding its presence in the Peruvian cocaine trade (and possibly throughout the region). Peruvian officials have echoed this warning, pointing to PCC presence in the VRAEM and the appearance of new land trafficking routes to Brazil.

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

BRAZIL / 17 DEC 2020

On June 10, 2016, Jorge Rafaat was driving his armored Hummer when he pulled up to a stop light in…

BRAZIL / 26 AUG 2014

As Brazil works to project the image of a nation that is effectively addressing security challenges in its major cities,…

BRAZIL / 27 MAR 2017

A recent spate of violence on the border between Brazil and Paraguay suggests a battle for control of drug trafficking…

About InSight Crime

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…

THE ORGANIZATION

Exploring Climate Change and Organized Crime

10 SEP 2021

In July, InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley moderated a panel for the Climate Reality Project's regional series of workshops for young climate activists in the Americas. The week-long event…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gearing Up a New Class of Interns

3 SEP 2021

InSight Crime is readying its newest class of interns – from universities in Europe and the Americas – to begin investigative work on a number of high-impact projects. For the…

THE ORGANIZATION

Tracking Environmental Crime in the Amazon

27 AUG 2021

Next week, InSight Crime launches an investigation – conducted with Brazilian think-tank the Igarapé Institute – on the sophisticated organized crime structures and armed groups that…