Peruvian authorities have charged 19 members of the extended family of the Quispe Palomino brothers, who head the Shining Path rebel group, with laundering drug profits for the guerrillas.
Ten alleged members of the ring were arrested in the region of Ica, southern Peru, three weeks ago. They belonged to three families, all related to the Quispe Palominos; the Gutierrez Mantaris, Muñoz Palominos and the Hinostroza Quispes. The authorities seized some $100 million worth of goods in the operation.
The ring allegedly laundered drug profits for the rebel group, the main faction of which is based in the nearby Apurimac and Ene River Valley (VRAE). Money was washed through businesses including fertilizer stores, brick factories and poultry producers, reported La Republica.
Captured Shining Path guerrillas reportedly tipped off the authorities to the existence of the ring, telling them that the accused would visit rebel camps to hand over weapons, medicine, food and money.
Among those charged, in absentia, were Shining Path leader Victor Quispe Palomino, "Comrade Jose," and his brother Jorge Quispe Palomino, alias "Raul."
InSight Crime Analysis
The operation against their money laundering operations is an important blow against the rebel group. The VRAE branch are thought to fund themselves in large part by taxing coca growers and protecting cocaine production facilities and shipments. Their network for laundering these profits, and turning them into food, medicine and so on, will be of crucial importance to the guerrillas and their survival.
After capturing Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala, alias "Comrade Artemio," who led the other faction of the rebel group, based further north in the Huallaga region, it seems that the government is now focusing its attention on the VRAE group. This could prove more difficult, as the Quispe Palominos' troops are thought to be stronger militarily and to draw bigger profits from from drug trafficking than their rivals. They have launched various deadly attacks on the security forces in recent years, and kidnapped 36 gas workers earlier this month.
The group's ability to operate in the valley with relative impunity could be threatened as the security forces step up operations against this last remaining stronghold of the Shining Path. In an interview given shortly before his capture, Artemio said that the VRAE group was stronger than his faction because the government had prioritized operations against his group. "They have decided to first take Huallaga, destroy it, and then the VRAE ... That's why they are as they are, in some ways they have been left alone, militarily speaking."