HomeNewsBriefPeru Set to Deactivate All Unidentified Cell Phones
BRIEF

Peru Set to Deactivate All Unidentified Cell Phones

EXTORTION / 4 JUN 2015 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

Peru plans to institute a “telephone blackout” in order to combat extortion, a widespread problem in the country commonly perpetrated via cell phones, but in the past criminals have proved able to quickly adapt to skirt similar measures. 

On June 2, Peruvian Interior Minister Jose Luis Perez Guadalupe announced a series of initiatives to combat extortion and improve citizen security, reported Peru 21. Among the new measures is a “telephone blackout,” whereby cell phones whose owners have not been properly registered with their respective telephone operators will be deactivated.

Starting June 5, everyone who buys a cell phone will be required to present an identification card and enter his or her fingerprints into a biometric database, reported El Comercio. In areas of the country without the necessary technology, buyer records will be cross-referenced with information from Peru’s national identification system. Buyers will also be limited to 10 cell phones per person so that one person’s name cannot be used to purchase hundreds of phones, as currently happens in Peru according to Perez. Then, in June 2016, all unidentified cell phones will be deactivated as part of the “telephone blackout.” 

Peruvian authorities also plan to propose legislation that would require telephone companies to report the location of cell phones used for extortion within 24 hours. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Extortion appears to be a growing problem in Peru. The country’s construction industry is a popular target for extortion networks — which often operate with the aid of corrupt police — although extortionists also go after Peru’s transportation sector and even schools.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Extortion

In addition, local criminal groups carry out micro-extortion, threatening small businesses via cell phones, social media, or mail — often from behind bars — to coerce them into paying regular fees.

The anti-extortion measures announced by Peru’s Interior Minister are somewhat novel in their approach. While other Latin American countries have moved to block cell phone reception in and around prisons in an attempt to curtail extortion, few have implemented initiatives as far-reaching as the “telephone blackout.”

Nonetheless, the demonstrated capacity of extortionists to adapt and continue their illicit activities in the face of efforts to mitigate the crime could prevent the proposed initiatives from having a significant impact. According to a former Peruvian official, Colombia implemented a similar blackout in the early 2000s, but the results were minimal because criminals simply found other ways to obtain phones.

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Related Content

EXTORTION / 7 SEP 2012

More than 90 percent of businesses in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa have experienced security threats, mostly in the form of…

EXTORTION / 6 SEP 2011

A diplomatic cable released by whistleblower website WikiLeaks offer further evidence of the climate of corruption that exists around the…

BARRIO 18 / 27 APR 2016

Police in Honduras say transportation operators are often complicit in the extortion rings that exploit their own drivers, showing how…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…