Peru replaces national police director

President Alan García swore in the new director of Peru’s national police today. Gen. Octavio Salazar replaces Gen. David Rodríguez amid a growing drug trade connected to remnants of Shining Path guerrillas.

Before his promotion, Salazar was the head of Lima’s Seventh Police Division.

During the ceremony, García stressed the importance of fighting corruption and Peru’s growing drug trade. “I’m sure we will make the drug traffickers and money launderers back away this year” said García. “They are the ones who corrupt the resources of our national society.”

“We have to continue lowering the crime rate, increasing the acceptance of the national police, and fighting narco-terrorism, as well as corruption,”  Salazar told reporters after the ceremony. “The important thing is that we have a plan in which we need to incorporate the population, the media, and each and every person.”

Rubén Vargas, an expert on drug trafficking, told daily El Comercio that Salazar should prioritize police intelligence in order to fight the cocaine trade and remnants of the Maoist Shining Path guerrilla movement now working in its employ. “I hope one of the first things General Salazar does is resolve the lack of resources for an activity so important for security, like intelligence for terrorism cases.”

“I’m not an optimist with those that say it was a spectacular year fighting drugs,” said Vargas. “In reality, the violence we saw in the Apurímac and Ene river valleys and the capital, Lima, is the tip of a gigantic iceberg that has recently appeared.”

Seven police officers have been killed in the last two months during ambushes in Peru’s remote Andean and jungle interior. In early November, 70 to 80 guerrillas ambushed a police outpost in Apurímac department, killing one officer. Two weeks later, police were attacked on a jungle road in Huancavelica department, killing four officers. Two more officers were killed on Dec. 24, when guerrillas launched a grenade at a police patrol in Ayacucho deparment.

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