Peruvian security forces arrested 23 people accused of collaborating with Shining Path remnants in the area of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro river valleys, the latest blow in the government’s initiative to derail the group.
The head of the Joint Command of Peru’s Armed Forces, Vice-Admiral Jose Cueto, and the director of the National Police, General Jorge Flores, said the individuals were arrested in several spots in the VRAEM, the strategic name for the south central valleys, including at Kiteni, Pichari and in the Ayacucho province of Huanta.
They said the results were due to an operation that involved intelligence work to track the support system for the Shining path in the VRAEM.
The VRAEM is one of Peru’s major cocaine producing regions. The area is home to the last remaining splinter group of the Shining Path rebels, which has little ideological connection to the group that terrorized Peru in the 1980s and 1990s. Instead, the rebels are known to have been able to survive thanks to the large profits from the area’s cocaine trade and lack of state presence.
The government has increased action plans and numbers of combined military-police troops in the area to root out the rebels,who have attacked private companies operating in the area and killed a number of soldiers and police officers.
Peruvian security forces got their first major blow against the Shining Path group with the recent killing of its top two military leaders, who were responsible for the attacks and kidnappings over the past two years.
“The government won’t stop in its fight against terrorism and drug trafficking,” the army and police said in a joint statement. “It will bring before Peruvian justice all of those who violate the law or collaborate with those crimes, who block the socioeconomic development of our country.”
Peru is the world’s top cocaine producer.