Cablegate: Opium Strategy Progress Report

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 LIMA 001246



E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/14/2015

REF: A. A...

id: 28747
date: 3/14/2005 21:05
refid: 05LIMA1246
origin: Embassy Lima
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 05LIMA4
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

----------------- header ends ----------------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 LIMA 001246



E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/14/2015

REF: A. A. LIMA 0004

B. B. LIMA 579
C. C. QUITO 149

Classified By: Classified by J. Curtis Struble, Ambassador, Reason 1.4

(C) BEGIN SUMMARY: In the first two months of 2005, the
Mission concentrated its resources and efforts to implement
its opium strategy set forth in REF A. Working with the
Peruvian police, the effort has resulted in eradication of 53
hectares of poppy fields and a reinvigorated intelligence
collection program. Trips to Quito (REF C) and the Amazonas
region (REF B) have spurred greater attention to collecting
information on the emerging opium poppy industry in Peru and
trafficking routes. The Peruvian police are actively
recruiting Peruvian government employees who live in or
travel to opium growing to provide information on poppy
cultivation and trafficking. Plans are to reassess the
Mission strategy in June and adjust our efforts accordingly.

1. (C) The Mission strategy to combat opium production and
trafficking in Peru was laid out in REF A in January. Since
then, Embassy agencies including the Narcotics Affairs
Section (NAS), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and
the Military Assistance Group (MAAG) have been aggressively
pursing their elements of the strategy including eradication,
interdiction, intelligence collection and regional

2. (C) Collecting human intelligence is key to an effective
eradication campaign. The GOP acknowledges it has very few
informants, and information that comes in does not have exact
coordinates, so that there is a high degree of uncertainty.
As an initial step, NAS has supported the formation of a PNP
opium eradication task force. Members include DIRANDRO
Office of Intelligence (OINT), DIRANDRO operations, regional
police offices (DIVANDRO) and anti-drug prosecutors in opium
growing zones to develop and exploit human intelligence on
poppy. The OINT has planned a series of meetings with
representatives of the Ministries of Education, Health and
Agriculture in the regions of Cajamarca, Amazonas and San
Martin to recruit their employees who travel or live in opium
growing areas to provide information. The OINT will also
meet with regional and local political and law enforcement
authorities to gain their cooperation. DIRANDRO has also
tasked PNP regional offices (DIVANDRO's) in suspect opium
producing areas to concentrate their efforts in providing
timely information on opium plantations. DIRANDRO
intelligence and operational officers will be assigned to
selected DIVANDRO's to energize and supervise the production
efforts. All intelligence about opium acquired by DIRANDRO
and DIVANDRO units is channeled through OINT for verification
and mapping.

------------------------ -------------------------
------------------------ -------------------------

3. (C) Interdicting opium latex is a key part of our Mission
strategy. DEA has deployed its investigators to northern
Peru as part of its Northern Border Initiative. These agents
are in regular contact with PNP counterparts responsible for
the Loreto Department to coordinate investigative activities.
DEA plans to establish an undercover presence to identify
individuals and organizations involved in latex trafficking.
Progress was made to start-up a drug hotline program. The
Mission Military Information Support Team (MIST) is providing
publicity support for a rewards program tied to the hotline.
They have developed a radio spot and posters that will be
distributed in towns close to poppy growing zones and
trafficking routes.

4. (SBU) Based on information from an informant, the PNP,
with DEA support, seized 76.8 kilos of opium latex from
Peruvian traffickers in city of Pucallpa on January 24. The
traffickers were not associated with any identifiable drug
trafficking organization. They did not have established
buyers. Samples were sent to DEA headquarters to test their
purity and to compare them to samples of latex from other
producer countries. Current information suggests that all
latex sold in Peru is destined for other countries where it
will be processed into heroin although there is some evidence
that morphine is being produced in Peru. Demand for heroin
in Peru is not evident.

5. (SBU) Regional cooperation on opium trafficking was
addressed when Lima Country Team members met with their
counterparts in Quito on January 18-19 to discuss areas of
cooperation and coordination (REF C). The meeting served to
heighten awareness of nascent threat of opium latex
trafficking in Peru and Southern Ecuador. Both Embassies are
mobilizing to gather more intelligence on this issue and to
coordinate our efforts. DEA and their police counterparts in
both countries are organizing an officer-exchange program in
Guayaquil and Piura. DEA hosted a regional police meeting
in Iquitos from Feb. 21- 24 attended by representatives from
Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Venezuela and the
U.S. The main themes were international terrorism and
illicit trafficking. Although coca dominated the drug
trafficking discussions, the expansion of poppy plantations
in presentations by Colombia, Peru and Ecuador provided
convincing evidence of an increase in latex trafficking and
the nexus between subversive movements (FARC and Sendero
Luminoso) and illicit trafficking. Conference attendees
signed a multilateral agreement to develop and implement an
effective regional law enforcement collaborative program,
with support from DEA.

6. (SBU) An Embassy group led by the DCM traveled in late
January to the capital of Amazonas region to discuss opium
trafficking with regional authorities (REF C). The
authorities acknowledged ongoing cultivation and trafficking
but noted they have few resources to combat it. NAS police
advisor will travel to Cajamarca this month with his PNP
counterpart to meet with local PNP officials to discuss their
participation in opium poppy operations.

7. (SBU) On the eradication front, the PNP found and
destroyed a total of 53 hectares of opium poppy from January
1 to March 11. These efforts include 10 hectares of opium in
Yarowilca, Huanuco on January 28, 18 hectares in Cayern,
Huanuco on March 1, and 25 hectares of opium poppy near Jaen,
in Cajamarca on March 11. The PNP is increasing the size of
the NAS-funded Special Operations Group (GOES), the troops
used to eradicate poppy, from the present twenty-five members
to a total of sixty officers, tripling its operational
capacity and enabling the unit to operate in different
production areas simultaneously. NAS will continue to
provide logistic support to the PNP to eradicate poppy
whenever it is found.

8. (SBU) Peruvian law requires the presence of an anti-drug
prosecutor from the GOP Public Ministry for all drug
operations carried out by the PNP. The shortage of
qualified prosecutors presents a potential bottleneck to
mounting an increased number of counternarcotics operations
in opium growing areas. To overcome this shortfall, NAS is
sponsoring a drug prosecutor's training program to prepare
local and regional prosecutors in the northern areas of Peru
to participate in anti-opium operations.


9. (SBU) We are counting on INL to provide aircraft better
suited for this type of mission than the Cessna C208.
Reconnaissance methods that require pilots to "eyeball" opium
poppy fields are risky to the pilots and unreliable in
locating fields. Besides poor flying conditions in the
mountains, pilots must fly at and above 13,000 feet because
of high terrain and winds, while trying to identify poppy
fields on mountainous slopes. Timing of the deployment of
INL aircraft is critical to success. The window of
opportunity to catch opium when it is in flower is in
March-April and September-October. Post has requested INL/A
to send 2 reconnaissance aircraft to Peru in early April but
this is not yet confirmed (REF D).

10. (SBU) CONCLUSION: The basis of our efforts has to be
better intelligence collection through the police, and this
is where we will focus our efforts. The Mission will
continue to actively implement our opium strategy in the
coming months even as we enter full swing into coca
eradication and interdiction operations. We plan to
reassess our strategy in June, when we will refine our
estimates of operational requirements and identify what
additional resources might be needed.

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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