Peru's top anti-narcotics prosecutor has warned that drug trafficking organizations and other criminal groups have infiltrated the judicial system, underscoring reports of endemic corruption in this country.
On May 15, Sonia Medina, head of anti-drug operations in the Inspector General's Office, reported that criminal organizations have forged ties at the highest levels of the judicial system and corrupted officials in other government institutions, reported INFOREGION. "Drug trafficking is one of the planetary cancers, like corruption," she said. "They use their economic power [to coopt the system]."
Medina's accusations come less than two months after another high-level official, Minister of the Interior Walter Alban, warned of growing corruption and the increasing power of Peruvian mafias. As an example, Alban mentioned a criminal group that managed to get a court order to recover half a ton of gold that had been confiscated by Peru’s customs agency (Sunat).
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Over the past few years, numerous scandals have indicated that corruption reaches the highest levels of the Peruvian government. In January, former president Alejandro Toledo was accused of money laundering and conspiracy and in 2013, former president Alan Garcia was implicated in a "pay-for-pardons" scandal in which he allegedly accepted bribes to free 400 drug traffickers. Former president Alberto Fujimori was convicted of human rights abuses in 2009 and is currently serving 25 years in prison.
In another recent case, the governor of Ancash, a rich mining state on the coast, was accused of leading a criminal organization that spent $1 million a month on bribes and hired hitmen to take care of anyone who wouldn’t accept cash. Another governor, in the northern state of Tumbes, has been implicated in the rise in targeted assassinations in his region.
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Medina's comments confirm the findings of a recent US State Department report citing corruption in Peru’s judicial system and suggest that few government institutions, if any, have been able to evade the influence of organized crime.
All of this comes amidst alarming reports that Peruvian youth are increasingly getting caught up in drug-fueled violence. An official from the Ministry of Justice recently reported that over the last five years the incidences of minors being caught with firearms have increased by over 180 percent and cases of children and adolescents being sent to rehabilitation centers for ties to drug trafficking have gone up by 70.5 percent.