Drug traffickers arrested in Peru have cast light on how the Shining Path profits from the drug trade, highlighting the difference between the Peruvian guerrilla group and other Latin American rebels involved in trafficking, such as Colombia's FARC.
Following a joint operation by the country's army and police, authorities reported 23 arrests and the dismantling of a drug trafficking network connected to the guerrilla insurgency, reported El Comercio. The arrests took place in the Valley of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro rivers (VRAEM), Peru's principal coca growing region and the Shining Path's last stronghold.
According to La Republica, testimony from three of the network's leaders has highlighted the dynamic between drug traffickers and the guerrillas, who apparently have no direct role in the harvesting or processing of drugs, but tax and regulate those who do.
The arrested traffickers told officials the Shining Path collected a levy of $5,000 for every ton of product moved through their territory, as well as demanding weapons and equipment.
SEE ALSO: Shining Path Profile
InSight Crime Analysis
This insight into the Shining Path's operations in the VRAEM demonstrates how they differ markedly from other rebel groups such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which are directly involved in cocaine processing and transportation. Like the Shining Path, the FARC also impose taxes, but charge far more than the Peruvian guerrillas. While Shining Path taxes amount to $5 per kilo, the FARC are thought to charge fifty times that by taxing farmers and buyers per kilo of coca base.
The results are reflected in the groups' earnings. With the VRAEM estimated to produce around 150 tons of cocaine a year, according to La Republica, the Shining Path would then earn less than $1 million annually, while InSight Crime estimates place annual FARC earnings from drug trafficking at approximately $200 million a year.
However the Shining Path have other sources of income, including taxing illegal logging and mining and extorting businesses and corporations. The confiscation in April 2012 of $100 million of property owned by Shining Path leaders demonstrated the group has access to significant funds.