Defense Minister: New equipment will allow military to defeat drug traffickers in VRAE

Peru’s purchase of modern military equipment will allow the country’s Armed Forces to defeat drug traffickers in the isolated coca growing areas that cover the Apurímac and Ene river valley’s, known as the VRAE, Defense Minister Rafael Rey told state news agency Andina.

Rey said that for a long time the armed forces had older technology than the “narco-terrorists” who were able to purchase new equipment with drug money. He added that for a time, military patrols were unable to communicate with their bases or helicopaters patrolling the VRAE.

“It is important to make the most of the advantages that we are given from new technology currently being developed in the world in areas as important as combating terrorism on the one side and drug trafficking on the other,” Rey said.

Peru is the world’s second largest producer of cocaine, after Colombia, and the VRAE is one of the country’s top drug producing regions. In 2008, 16,700 hectares were used to grow coca leaf in the VRAE.

The region is also host to remnants of the Shining Path insurgency, the once 10,000-strong Maoist rebel group that nearly brought Peru’s government to its knees during the 1980s with car bombings, assassinations and brazen attacks on police and military outposts.

Violent confrontations between Peruvian security personnel and the Shining Path – in the employ of drug traffickers – still result in deaths every year.

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