Nearly two tons of cocaine intercepted in a beach town in Peru, destined for the Netherlands, reportedly came from two distinct coca growing regions in the country, indicating that the Peruvian gang behind the shipment was doing business with clans that have traditionally operated separately.
The 1,881 kilograms of cocaine — packed into 43 bags — were seized in late June in the northwestern coastal city of Máncora. The drugs were to be moved by a speedboat to another vessel on the high seas, Peruvian news outlet La República reported. The cocaine was destined for the port city of Rotterdam.
The seizure was part of a larger operation in which authorities arrested gang leader Jorge Enrique Bazán Aguilar, alias “Gordo Tobi,” the alleged mastermind behind the drug shipment.
Three men managed to escape the drug bust, including the driver of the speedboat.
A property on Máncora’s Las Pocitas beach that had been used to store and package cocaine was also raided. There, authorities detained four members of Gordo Tobi’s gang, including a Venezuelan national, and seized a car and four jet skis.
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Bazán Aguilar has faced past criminal accusations, including charges of murdering two members of his gang. He was also allegedly involved in the killing of a Korean businessman and the kidnapping of a First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC) gang leader.
He was first arrested in December 2012 in Máncora. But a court later released him from prison on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence that he was the author of the crimes of aggravated robbery and murder.
Authorities had been reportedly tracking Gordo Tobi’s drug trafficking operation for more than a year at the time of the drug bust, tapping some 30 telephone lines, collecting video recordings and trailing members of the group.
InSight Crime Analysis
While Peru has long served as an exit point for maritime cocaine shipments, the seizure in Máncora is noteworthy for two reasons: the cocaine was produced in two distant regions and its export was controlled by a Peruvian gang.
La República reported that some of the cocaine was sourced in Huallaga, a coca growing region in northern part of the country, while some of it also came from the Valley of the Apurímac, Ene, Mantaro and Urubamba Rivers (VRAEM), an Amazonian region in southeastern Peru where most of the Andean country’s cocaine is produced. For cocaine to be sourced from both regions, which are some 1,350 kilometers apart, is unusual.
Small family clans in the VRAEM and Huallaga regions have long been in charge of cocaine supplies and the movement of the drug to the country’s capital and borders. Guerrilla fighters belonging to the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, or the Militarized Communist Party of Peru (Militarizado Partido Comunista de Peru - MPCP), have also provided security for crops.
Meanwhile, transnational criminal groups, including Mexican and Colombian cartels, have traditionally controlled maritime cocaine exports from Peru. Cargo ships at Peru’s ports of Callao and Piura have long served as launching pads for drug shipments headed north, while, more recently, Serbian mafia groups have become involved in the movement of cocaine to Europe.
There have been indications in recent years that the Peruvian family clans have been looking to expand and to bypass foreign middlemen. Gordo Tobi’s gang may have been doing exactly that. Or the gang leader may have seen an opportunity to build his own trafficking network of Peruvian cocaine shipments to Europe.