Cablegate: (U) Drug Trafficking and Drug Markets in Peru

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

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 LIMA 001344



E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/10/2030

B. LIMA 1171
C. 04 ...

id: 29245
date: 3/21/2005 16:18
refid: 05LIMA1344
origin: Embassy Lima
classification: SECRET//NOFORN
destination: 03LIMA5174|04LIMA5755|05LIMA1171|05SECSTATE34029
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

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

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 LIMA 001344



E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/10/2030

B. LIMA 1171
C. 04 LIMA 5755
D. 03 LIMA 5174

Classified By: Polcouns Alexander Margulies. Reason: 1.4(c).

1. (U) The responses in this cable reference the questions
posed in Ref A.

A. (S) Describe cocaine trafficking organizations in Peru?
Do they typically specialize in one drug activity? What is
their average size? How are they structured? Are they
vertically or horizontally integrated?

-- Until the mid-1990s, Peruvian and Colombian traffickers
generally shipped multi-ton quantities of cocaine base via
air directly from the jungle labs of Peru's coca leaf source
zones to Colombia for conversion to cocaine HCL. The
combination of air interdiction, law enforcement efforts, and
the enormous expansion of coca leaf production in Colombia
led to a reduction in coca leaf production in Peru. The
successful air interdiction also prompted Peruvian
traffickers to begin processing cocaine base into cocaine HCL
and to develop new markets (Brazil). Peruvian traffickers
also reached out to Mexican drug trafficking organizations to
bypass the Colombian intermediaries. In recent years, the
success of Plan Colombia eradication has increased the demand
for Peruvian cocaine production. Since the mid-1990s,
Mexican trafficking organizations have transported multi-ton
quantities of Peruvian cocaine to Mexico by maritime routes,
with the U.S. and other countries as final destinations.
Most of these organizations have been identified as Mexican
Consolidated Priority Organization Target List (CPOT)
operating independently of Colombian trafficking

-- Cocaine trafficking organizations in Peru are
decentralized and operate in a horizontal manner. They
appear to be primarily based on clan or family ties.
Narcotraffickers have their agents purchase coca leaf and
base from individual farmers (cocaleros) or cocalero clans.
We are seeing a greater production of cocaine base in small
Peruvian mom-and-pop operations. Narcotrafficking groups
exist in a horizontal network, and traffickers seeking
product for export will often purchase cocaine HCL from other
groups in order to amass the desired quantity for shipment.
No one cocaine trafficking group dominates the trade from the
coca field to the export platform.

-- The Oscar Rodriguez Gomez organization in Ayacucho offers
a good example of how a clan narcotrafficking organization is
structured and operates. Rodriguez has a history of
providing cocaine HCL and base from the Apurimac-Ene River
Valley (VRAE) region to Colombian and Ecuadoran buyers. He
utilizes family members to conduct all important facets of
his operation from the acquisition of precursor chemicals to
the oversight of the laboratory used to convert cocaine base
into HCL, as well as transporting funds into Peru and
exporting the finished product out of the country. Not all
of the people employed by Rodriguez are family members. He
also retains an attorney to conduct the organization's money
laundering activities through "straw" purchases of properties
and businesses.

-- Opium trafficking appears to be based on clan or
family-based organizations, with no dominant group. Opium
poppy cultivation, the production of opium latex and
morphine, is primarily concentrated in the north-central part
of Peru, with some poppy cultivation also reported in the
Huallaga valley (a coca source zone). There is no/no
evidence of a strong linkage between opium and cocaine
producers in Peru.

B. (S) Who are the major cocaine traffickers in Peru? What
are their nationalities? How large are their organizations?

-- Fernando Zevallos Gonzalez, who was named a a Drug
Kingpin last June, has long been the major drug
trafficker/money launderer of Peruvian nationality (RefD).
Other significant traffickers in the Peruvian context include
Oscar Rodriguez Gomez, Napoleon Zamora-Melgarejo
(Peruvian-based), Manuel Rivera-Niebla (Mexican-based), and
Miguel Arevalo-Ramirez (Peruvian, Mexican, U.S.-based).
Additional information related to investigations of these
traffickers should be sought from DEA HQ. There do not
appear to be any large-scale trafficking organizations on the
scale of the Colombian cartels. Rather there exists a
horizontal web of traffickers who deal with each other, and
who are available for recruitment by Mexican and Colombian
organizations to assemble cocaine HCL and cocaine base for

C. (S) What role to Colombian and Mexican cocaine
traffickers play in Peru's drug trade? At what point do
Mexican and Colombian traffickers establish ownership over
Peruvian or Bolivian cocaine? How often do they finance
cocaine loads up front? How do they pay for the services of
Peruvian drug groups?

-- Colombian and Mexican cocaine traffickers create the
demand for cocaine HCL and base in Peru. The Colombians
appear to be more willing to advance money for cocaine
deliveries, or to pay once the cocaine is delivered within
Peru, whilst the Mexicans seem to prefer to pay once the
cocaine is delivered to Mexico. The arrest of several
Mexican traffickers in recent major drug busts indicates that
the Mexican organizations are involved in preparing the
cocaine for shipment from Peru to Mexico.

D. (S) How is cocaine base brokered in Peru? Are there
cocaine base markets similar to in Colombia?

-- As described above, cocaine base is either produced by
the narcotrafficking organizations themselves, or
increasingly, is bought directly from cocaleros who establish
maceration pits on their farms. Cocaine base and cocaine HCL
is commonly bought and sold between trafficking
organizations. There are also anecdotal reports of cocaine
base being used as currency in coca growing areas.

E. (S) How much cocaine base is processed into finished
cocaine in Peru and how much is transported to other
countries for processing? How much cocaine base is
transported directly to Mexico or Colombia for further

-- Whereas through the early 1990s Peru mostly exported
cocaine base to Colombia, in recent years traffickers began
producting cocaine HCL in Peru for export to Mexico and
Europe by maritime routes, and to Colombia, Bolivia and
Brazil by land and riverine routes. The following chart of
Peruvian National Police seizures illustrates this shift:

-- Seizures of Cocaine HCL and Base in Metric Tons
2002 2003 2004 2005(Jan-March)

HCL 3.2 3.25 7.11 4.48

Base 8.4 3.76 5.76 0.5

The extent to which the cocaine HCL being exported requires
further processing is unknown at this time, but DEA will be
addressing this issue in its "Breakthrough Study," which is
scheduled to commence in August.

F. (S) What trends characterize prices for cocaine base and
cocaine HCL in Peru?

-- While the price for cocaine base and HCL appears to be
rising recently, there are no steady long-term trends
concerning the price for cocaine base and cocaine HCL in
Peru. The price depends upon a number of factors and can
vary region-by-region: the price for coca leaf in Bolivia
and Peru; the price for precursor chemicals; the overall
demand for cocaine base and HCL in the particular region; law
enforcement efforts in the area; and the amount being
purchased at one time. We have seen prices in regions vary
by up to 50 percent from one month to the next. The general
price range in Peru is from $1000-1500 for a kilo of HCL.

G. (S) How do drug groups in Peru launder their funds?
Where do they keep or invest their illicit income?

-- The Zevallos organization laundered funds through its
now-defunct airline, Aero Continente. That and other
narcotrafficking organizations also employ various other
means to launder funds, including bulk money smuggling; the
hundreds of poorly regulated casinos in Lima and other
Peruvian cities; and investment in tangible assets such as
properties, businesses and conveyances. Peruvian coca
growers and traffickers occupy the low-profit
production/processing end of the business, while Mexicans and
Colombians reap most of the profits from the higher-value
transport and wholesaling of the drugs to/in the U.S., Europe
and Brazil. Consequently, the profits earned by Peruvian
traffickers is often small enough to launder without danger
of it appearing on law enforcement agencies' radar screens.
The de facto dollarization of Peru's economy, as well as its
largely informal nature, also facilitates the laundering of
narcotrafficking proceeds. (See Post's INCSR submission on
Financial Crimes and Money Laundering in Ref C for additional
information on money laundering).

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

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Covid: 250 Groups Urge WTO Chief To Ditch Pharma-Friendly Approach And Embrace Vaccine Patent Waiver

by Jake Johnson, staff writer An international coalition of 250 civil society groups on Tuesday urged the head of the World Trade Organization to embrace a temporary suspension of coronavirus vaccine-related patents, warning against pursuit of a voluntary ... More>>

Samoa’s Stunning Election Result: On The Verge Of A New Ruling Party For The First Time In 40 Years

Tamasailau Suaalii Sauni , University of Auckland and Patricia A. O'Brien , Georgetown University Samoan politics is on a knife edge. After the country voted in general elections on April 9, counting so far has resulted in a dead heat between the two ... More>>

Timor-Leste: UN Agencies Support Response In Wake Of Deadly Floods

United Nations agencies in Timor-Leste are supporting response efforts, as floods and landslides left widespread damage across the country, including in the capital, Dili. According to media reports, at least 21 people died in the country and many ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

Awake At Night: S3-Episode 21: There Is Hope

Brazzaville visit to CSI Pilote du Diabete with Health workers at a local government clinic. 2018 - Photo: ©CSI/Dr. Soumya Swaminathan 'When it comes to a pandemic, it really needs global collaboration and solidarity because the pathogens and viruses More>>

UN: Growing Calls For Revamping Development Financing To Ensure Sustainable Global Recovery From COVID-19 Pandemic

Forum to highlight new initiatives to tackle inequalities exacerbated by pandemic With many economies reeling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as inequalities continue to widen, world leaders will discuss options to unlock concrete investments ... More>>

How Can We Vaccinate The World? Five Challenges Facing The UN-Backed COVAX Programme

The aim of the UN-backed COVAX scheme is to get two billion vaccine doses into the arms of around a quarter of the population of poorer countries by the end of 2021. What are the main challenges that need to be overcome, if this historic global effort ... More>>