Peru has created a multi-agency counternarcotics force to be stationed at the country's airports, a move likely to improve both drug interdiction and intelligence gathering in the country.
The Airports Anti-drug Task Force (GETAA) will begin operations with a pilot force (GTPA) at the Jorge Chavez International Airport near Lima, but will later be deployed at other airports throughout the country, reported La Republica.
It will consist of anti-drug agents from the national police, customs and immigration officials, as well as regional anti-drugs prosecutors, with officials serving a two to three year period in the force, reported Peru 21.
According to Carmen Masias, the head of the National Commission for Development and Life without Drugs (DEVIDA), the scheme was intended to protect the lives of drug mules, who she described as "victims" of drug cartels, reported El Peruano.
Jorge Chavez International Airport is Peru's major passenger transport hub and last year served more than 13.3 million passengers.
InSight Crime Analysis
The creation of the GETAA is an important move on the part of Peruvian authorities to effectively address criminal passenger traffic coming in and out of Peru as it brings together police, customs and immigration agencies, which have previously operated as completely separate entities.
While Masias reported the interdiction of 131 drug mules at Jorge Chavez airport in the first eight months of 2013, Peru is not a major departure point for international drug shipments. It is far more common for drugs produced in the country to be transported to Brazil or Argentina, often via Bolivia, from where they are exported overseas.
However, the GETAA has the potential to provide effective intelligence gathering at airports, something which InSight Crime field work revealed is being pushed for by the UK Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and other European law enforcement agencies. As the region's number one cocaine producer, Peru sees a great deal of activity from international criminal organizations and the GETAA will better equip the country to monitor criminal passenger traffic as traffickers fly in and out of the country to make deals.