Authorities in Peru have dismissed nearly two dozen police officials in the northern coastal city of Chiclayo for ties to drug trafficking, highlighting widespread official corruption in the country.
In early September, Peru's Inspector General for the National Police expelled 21 members from various national police units in the city after phone recordings linked them to convicted drug trafficker Haydee Leyva Caycay, alias "Tia Vicky," reported La Republica. The accused officials include one colonel, two majors, two captains, and 16 lower-ranking officers. The former head of the police's anti-drug division in Chiclayo has also been accused of working with Caycay, reported Correo.
Following an initial investigation in which the colonel was absolved and other police received just minor sanctions, a second investigation was launched that took into account 154 phone conversations intercepted by anti-drug police. The conversations involved Chiclayo police and Caycay or her associate Santiago Soto Melendez, alias "Pechereque."
According to the Inspector General, the police officials provided Caycay with the dates and times of upcoming drug busts, and also informed her of the identities of undercover policemen operating within her criminal group.
In 2013, Caycay -- considered at the time to be the main drug distributor in the city -- and other members of her criminal group were sentenced to 25 years in prison for money laundering.
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According to La Republica, the Caycay clan trafficked drugs and laundered money in Chiclayo province from 1995 until the group was disbanded in 2013. Although the Caycay group reportedly operated in a relatively small section of the country, the fact that they were able to rely on high-level police connections suggests at least some degree of sophistication.
The dismissal of 21 police officers for ties to drug trafficking is yet another sign of how deep-rooted official corruption is in Peru. Corrupt police forces have also been accused of facilitating extortion in northern Peru, and last year the police chief in the northern city of Lambayeque -- near Chiclayo -- was arrested for allegedly working with the Nuevo Clan del Norte extortion gang.
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Numerous Peruvian politicians and political candidates have also been accused of corruption and participating in criminal activity. Authorities have already banned over 300 candidates from running for office in upcoming October elections because of criminal convictions, and in August Interior Minister Daniel Urresti identified 115 political candidates who allegedly have ties to drug trafficking.