A police chief in north Peru, lauded for dismantling a major organized crime group, has now been arrested on charges of working with the organization's criminal successors, drawing attention to the workings of Peru's homegrown mafias.
The head of the police in the northern city of Lambayeque, Jorge Linares Ripalda, was arrested on December 14 after seven of his deputies reported he had ordered them to work on behalf of the Nuevo Clan del Norte gang, reported La Republica.
The arrest comes a year after Linares played an instrumental role in taking down one of the Peru's most significant native organized crime groups, the Gran Familia, which ran extortion and contract killing networks throughout the north of the country.
While there are indications that remnants of the Gran Familia are still active, the charging of extortion in the region is now largely controlled by their rivals, the Nuevo Clan del Norte, which target small businesses, construction companies and public transport.
According to investigators cited in La Republica, Linares aided the gang and its leader, the incarcerated Juan Vasquez Clavijo, alias "Pepe Clavijo," with logistics and manpower.
Linares first fell under suspicion after the arrest of five officers that had worked under his command earlier this month.
InSight Crime Analysis
While Peru is now the world's leading cocaine supplier, there are currently no large scale native drug cartels of the type that have caused so much damage to Colombia and Mexico.
SEE ALSO: Peru News and Profiles
However, as illustrated by the Gran Familia and their successors in the Clan del Norte, Peruvian organized crime groups do exist. Peruvian mafia organizations tend to be smaller than those involved in the transnational drug trade and more focused on local sources of income, particularly extortion, contract killing and street level drug sales -- microtrafficking.
As with their larger cousins in the international drug trade, corruption plays a critical role in these groups' operations. Working with security forces to destroy rivals is a classic form of utilizing corrupt contacts, which, as in the case of Linares, not only benefits the criminals, who can seize their rivals territory, but also the corrupt officials, who can claim credit for victories against a criminal group.