According to the Joint Command of the Armed Forces of Peru (CCFFAA), military forces have destroyed a total of 36 hidden landing strips in the valley of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro rivers (VRAEM) in an attempt to stop the Cafeteros, a Colombian drug ring, from distributing narcotics in the area. 19 runways were apparently destroyed destroyed from July 3 – 31, with the remaining 17 destroyed from August 1 – 18. This move is pursuant to the May 17 broadcasting of several wire-tapped phone conversations between a man called Bellota, who has been identified as one of the Cafeteros main ringleaders, and deceased Shining Path military commander Martin Quispe Palomino, as well as other guerrilla leaders. It is said that the intercepted calls comprised detailed conversations concerning the killing of an informant.
The heavy military intervention will pose significant obstacles to the Cafeteros, who back the VRAEM’s Shining Path terrorist group.
It is said that the drug ring makes cocaine in laboratories located in the VRAEM, and has flipped approximately 500 kilos of the drug under the protection of the Shining Path terrorist group, in exchange for money and equipment. In 2013, incarcerated drug traffickers reportedly admitted that the Shining Path collects $5,000(USD) for every ton of cocaine that the Cafeteros move through the VRAEM.
The Shining Path group is a Maoist guerrilla insurgent organization that believes in the establishment of a purely communist government, and apparently claims to be the “vanguard” of the world communist movement. It is known for its brutal violence against both government officials and the general population.
Anti-drug prosecutor Mery Zuzunaga commented: “For the first time in an objective and concrete manner, the state can corroborate the link between drug trafficking and terrorism in the VRAEM.”
The CCFFAA has said that it is committed to the issue until the “peacemaking stage” is reached.