A suspected drug trafficker named earlier this year on Peru’s list of most wanted fugitives has been captured in the Dominican Republic, another sign that Peruvian crime groups may be building important international relationships.
Peru’s Interior Ministry announced on November 23 that Juan Abraham Leguía Manzur, known by the aliases “Nacho” and “Nicho,” had been captured that morning in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo.
The agency said that the operation, which involved agents from special units of the Peruvian police working with Dominican counterparts, began in September after a tipster alerted Peruvian authorities that the fugitive was in the Dominican Republic.
Leguía’s name appeared earlier this year on a list of most wanted criminal suspects released by Peru's Interior Ministry. The agency offered a reward of around $30,000 for information leading to his capture.
According to the Interior Ministry, Leguía is accused of financing and participating in cocaine trafficking and distribution. He has been sought by Peruvian authorities since the 1990s, when he reportedly maintained relationships with some of the country’s top drug traffickers.
One of those figures, Demetrio Chávez Peñaherrera, alias “Vaticano,” was released from prison in January 2016 after serving a 22-year sentence for drug trafficking and other crimes.
Another of those figures was Fernando Zevallos Gonzales, alias "Lunarejo," a former airline president convicted in 2005 of using his company to help transport drugs (pdf). Zevallos is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence in Peru.
InSight Crime Analysis
Leguía’s capture in the Dominican Republic serves as further evidence that Peruvian crime groups may be strengthening their presence and relationships in countries abroad. Criminal ties between Peru and the Dominican Republic also surfaced last month, when a multi-country operation targeted a human smuggling ring composed primarily of Peruvians who allegedly facilitated the illegal entry of Dominican migrants to Chile.
The capture in late April of another of Peru’s most wanted fugitives, Gerson Aldair Gálvez Calle, alias "Caracol,” was indication of a similar dynamic. Caracol was captured in the Colombian city of Medellín, where authorities suspected that he was attempting to forge drug trafficking ties with a network of local crime groups known as the Oficina de Envigado.
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Peruvian criminals have been revealed to also maintain ties to European criminal organizations. An alleged Serbian crime boss named Zoran Jaksic was arrested in July 2016 in Peru, where authorities are investigating his possible ties to detained Peruvian drug trafficking suspect Gerald Oropeza, alias "Tony Montana."
Additionally, a Peru-based counterfeiting ring broken up in a November 16 operation uncovered evidence that the group had connections in virtually every country in South America as well as the United States and parts of Europe.