Peru police capture alleged high ranking Shining Path member

Source: Andina

Peruvian police say they have captured Edgar Nicanor Mejia, allegedly a high ranking member of the Shining Path faction led by Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala, also known as “Comrade Artemio,” state news agency Andina reported.

Mejia, who is also known as “Comrade Izula,” was reportedly Artemio’s right hand man in the Proseguir, or “to continue,” group, which is believed to command 200-300 insurgents based in Peru’s Upper Huallaga Valley.

“The Peruvian government through the National Police in a joint effort with different intelligence units captured today the terrorist Comrade Izula, a very important senior member of the Shining Path,” Peru’s Interior Minister Fernando Barrios said.

Mejia allegedly participated in ambushes that resulted in the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians, the director of the national police, Miguel Hidalgo, said.

“The criminal activity of this terrorist dates back a long time. On Dec. 20, 2005, he participated in a terrorist attack in Aucayacu where eight police were killed. On Jun. 14, 2007, in Tocache, he participated in a terrorist attack where two police and a prosecutor died,” Hidalgo said.

Mejia was reportedly captured in the Cholon district in Huanuco department. Two members of his group were killed in the confrontation with police.

“We are going to continue with the intelligence work, with patience but persistent, and very soon we will have news about efficient action, from the National Police and the State together,” said Barrios.

Besides Artemio’s group in Huanuco’s Upper Huallaga Valley, there is also a Shining Path splinter group that operates in the VRAE – the Apurimac and Ene Valleys, which include 31 districts in the departments of Ayacucho, Cuzco, Huancavelica and Junin.

The two regions are Peru’s top coca growing areas.

The two splinter groups, despite calling themselves the Shining Path, now have little to do with the pro-Maoist rebel group founded by Abimael Guzmán, which at its peak in the 1980s had approximately 5,000 militants and almost brought the country to its knees with car bombings, brutal massacres and assassinations, and brazen attacks on police and military outposts. The rebel group was seriously diminished when Guzmán was arrested in 1992, and remnants managed to elude law enforcement in the high jungle of Huanuco.

Twenty years later, these factions hold to none of Guzman’s original beliefs and strategic goals, focusing almost entirely on narco-terrorism, controlling certain coca production areas and generating income from illegal drug trafficking.

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