Peruvian municipal police chief arrested for drug trafficking

The police chief from the city of La Mar, capital of San Miguel province in Ayacucho department, was arrested Sunday night after he was allegedly caught transporting 25 kilograms, or 55 pounds, of cocaine paste. According to daily La República, Captain Pedro Guzmán Ayma had wrapped the paste in 59 packages and hid it in a box in his police vehicle. An AKM rifle and numerous pistols were also seized.

Guzmán and three accomplices were reportedly about 10 kilometers, or about 6 miles, outside of Ayacucho when police officers confronted them. Guzmán opened fire on the police, causing a shootout that left one of his accomplices, a known drug trafficker, injured, local media reported.

The men were allegedly traveling to Ayacucho from the Apurímac and Ene river valleys, VRAE, where more than 30 percent of Peru’s coca, the raw material used to make cocaine, is cultivated, according to the 2007 UN World Drug Report. The UN report added that the 2006 farm-gate value of cocaine paste was $879 per kilogram in Colombia, where much of the Peruvian paste is sent and manufactured into cocaine.

Guzmán is not the first public official implicated in the drug trade, which is a multi-billion dollar business. “Authorities don’t do anything to control drug trafficking, which has been able to bribe lots of the authorities in the coca growing areas” said former Interior Minister Fernando Rospigliosi.

In a November Enlace Nacional interview, Rospigliosi said the drug trade “has a tremendous corruption potential. It doesn’t work to only send police, you need to have a system of control to watch the police.” He added “because if you don’t, they will be corrupted by the drug traffickers.”

Rospigliosi’s comments followed the first of three attacks on police, which left seven officers dead between November and December last year. The attacks are thought to be attributed to remnants of the Shining Path insurgency, who are now employed by drug traffickers.

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