The Shining Path leaders killed in a Peruvian security force ambush allegedly thought they were meeting a drug trafficker to party and enjoy prostitutes, but the trafficker had become a police informant.
More details are emerging of the ambush earlier this week that led to the deaths of two Shining Path commanders: Orlando Borda Casablanca, alias "Alipio," and Marco Quispe Palomino, alias "Gabriel." Both were part of the top leadership of the last remaining rebel faction that operates in the VRAEM region of Peru -- the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro River Valleys.
The men met with a drug trafficker who provided logistic support to the rebel group, according to news magazine Caretas. However the trafficker had been "turned" by the police and was now acting as an informant. The rebel leaders arrived at the trafficker's house, in a rural area of Llochegua, in the central province of Ayacucho. They were expecting a party and prostitutes, according to one version, but instead ending up sitting on a series of explosive charges the security forces had left for them. Once the informant had made an excuse and vacated the property, the charges were detonated.
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The Peruvian security forces are hoping to repeat the success they had against Florindo Eleuterio Flores, alias "Artemio," who led the other branch of the Shining Path, in the Upper Huallaga Valley. Artemio was captured in February 2012, and his arrest seems to have all but destroyed rebel power in that region.
SEE ALSO: Shining Path Profile
One of the key stages in the lead-up to the capture of Artemio was the killing of his security chief, Hector Aponte, alias "Clay," in February 2006, exactly six years earlier. This left Artemio increasingly exposed.
Peruvian security forces are hoping to do the same with Victor Quispe Palomino, alias "Camarada Jose," the head of the VRAEM faction. Alipio was the military head of this Shining Path faction, and Gabriel was Camarada Jose's brother. Now the rebel second-in-command is another Quispe Palomino brother, Jorge, alias "Camarada Raul."
Alipio's death has certainly weakened the military capacity of the Shining Path, but not its role in drug trafficking in the VRAEM, one of the major coca-growing areas in Peru. What is clear is that the Peruvian police are investing large sums of money, and considerable effort, in recruiting informants in and around the VRAEM, aware that this is the key to dismantling the last remaining rebel faction in the country.
SEE ALSO: Peru News and Profiles