The US Treasury Department has designated Peru's Shining Path guerrilla group as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker, citing the group's involvement in taxing and protecting drug shipments.
In a statement released June 1, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) indicated the designation is based on the Shining Path's partial reliance on the drug trade to finance its "terrorist activities." As a result of the OFAC designations, no US companies are able to do business with individuals or groups named on the list.
The OFAC statement said that the Shining Path tax the production and transit of cocaine in south-central Peru, and provide armed protection for drug trafficking groups.
The OFAC also blacklisted three Shining Path leaders, Victor Quispe Palomino, alias "Jose," Jorge Quispe Palomino, alias "Raul," and Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala, alias "Artemio." A year ago, these same leaders were indicted by the US Southern District Court of New York on various charges.
Peruvian authorities captured Artemio in 2012. He was later sentenced to life in prison by a Peruvian court after he was convicted on terrorism, drug trafficking, and money laundering charges. The Palomino brothers are still at large.
InSight Crime Analysis
While the US State Department has classified the Shining Path as a terrorist organization since 1997, this is the first time that Treasury has formally placed sanctions against the Shining Path for drug trafficking. The designation seems intended to complement what the OFAC statement describes as Peru's "comprehensive and aggressive" counter-narcotics strategy.
Still, the rationale for announcing the OFAC designation a full year after the 2014 indictments is unclear. It's also unclear how effective the Treasury sanctions will prove to be. As a designated foreign terrorist organization, the Shining Path is already subject to the same prohibitions that they face as foreign narcotics traffickers. So it may well be that this latest designation by Treasury is largely of political and symbolic importance.
SEE ALSO: Shining Path News and Profiles
While the territory where the Shining Path operates in Peru (a region known as the VRAEM) is a hub for coca cultivation and cocaine production, the Shining Path itself has never been implicated in direct involvement in the transnational drug trade. Instead, the group has largely relied on taxing different parts of the drug production and supply chain. However, Peruvian officials did recently say that the group is allied with Colombian drug traffickers.