Police begin investigation into finances of drug trafficking enterprise

The head of Peru’s anti-narcotics unit, General Miguel Hidalgo, announced that they will begin preliminary investigations into 124 companies and some 77 people suspected of money laundering. The investigation surrounds the Sánchez Paredes family, which is suspected of using the companies to hide decades-old profits from drug trafficking.

According to Agencia Andina, the investigations will include the Sánchez Paredes siblings: Santos Orlando, Amanda Francisca, Segundo Manuel, Fortunato Wilmer and Blanca Azucena as well as their mother, Marcelina Príncipe.

Police suspect the Sánchez Paredes family has been involved in the drug trade since 1976, supplying cocaine to Mexican and Colombian cartels, including the Medellín cartel, which was ruled by Colombia’s former drug baron, Pablo Escobar.

“We are looking for a sharp investigation with testimonies, expertise, evidence and corresponding surveys,” said Hidalgo. “When finished we’ll have an impeccable report that will allow the judiciary to press charges accordingly.”

Police said they will also investigate the finances of 121 national and three international companies that are involved in the mining, agriculture, transportation and construction industries. Some of the implicated companies reportedly include the Aurífera Santa Rosa mining company, the Príncipe Azul transportation company, Limited Import Export SAC, Electropeso SRLTDA, and Fortucal SRL.

President Alan García said fighting Peru’s growing drug trade should include investigations into its finances and not simply seizing narcotics and eradicating illegal coca crops, the raw material used to make cocaine.

“They should investigate where the money from drug trafficking is going, who the professionals that help drug dealers are, and which lawyers provide legal advise to cover up the resources of hundreds of millions of dollars coming from the drug trade,” daily El Comercio reported García saying.

Police told daily Gestión that money laundering from Peru’s drug trade totaled about $1.5 billion in 2007, almost three times more than estimates from 2006. However, police seized $84 million worth last year, only $20 million more than 2006.

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