Authorities increase security in Callao port to fend off piracy

The Peruvian coast guard service, Dicapi, has said it will increase security in the waters around the port of Callao in an effort to prevent further ship robberies, daily El Comercio reported.

Earlier this month, a Japanese fishing boat anchored about 3.5 miles from the port was robbed by some 20 assailants from Callao who reached the ship using two small launches. Repairs on the Kenyo Maru II has just been completed at the SIMA shipyard and the vessel was about to return to its fishing operations.

Police believe the group that attacked the boat is the same gang that often robs trucks in the port city.

As a result of the hold-up, Dicapi has assigned a patrol boat and several smaller launches in an attempt to prevent further robberies. In addition, Dicapi plans to also install security cameras around port facilities.

“Robberies at sea aren’t that frequent, but we will reinforce the safety in the bay to avoid cases like that of the Kenyo Maru,” said vice admiral Carlos Tejada.

In 2010, there were only three reports of boats being robbed off the Callao port. The main security challenge for port operators is the robberies of trucks that transport goods to the port for export, according to Leoncio Irigoyen, the general manager of the Peruvian Association of Port Operators (Asppor).

“The bad condition of Gambetta Avenue, which hasn’t been repaired despite a concessionaire being selected, creates traffic and moves slowly. That is taken advantage of by criminals to rob the load and sometimes even the truck with the container,” Irigoyen said.

“This happens at train track crossings or at traffic lights on Gambetta. When the truck doesn’t have a load, it can still be a target because the thieves take the extinguishers and even the cell phones of the drivers,” he added.

Port operators lose $10 million a year due to the robberies, and cargo transport companies lose $7.5 million a month, according to Irigoyen. In the last quarter of 2010, there were 35 hold-ups of companies affiliated with Asppor.

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