Peru Sacks Airport Customs Team As Mexico Drug Links Continue

Peru Sacks Airport Customs Team As Mexico Drug Links Continue

Authorities in Peru have sacked an entire customs police team at Lima airport for moving drugs for Mexican traffickers, in a sign that efforts to counter corruption at the airport have fallen flat.

An investigation by Peru’s Anti-Narcotics Unit has revealed that three customs officers at the capital’s Jorge Chavez International Airport were collaborating with a Mexican mafia group, reported Peru 21. The policemen had been arrested on April 8, after a Mexican national travelling to his home country was discovered with almost 13kg of cocaine in his suitcase, which he claimed had been placed there by the three officers, reported El Comercio.

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According to La Republica, Peruvian Interior Minister Walter Alban responded to the incident by dismissing the airport’s entire customs police force, in order for the other agents to be investigated.

InSight Crime Analysis

This is just the latest example of links uncovered between Peruvian airport officials and Mexican criminals, with ten of the airport’s 15 anti-drug police revealed to have been collaborating with the Sinaloa Cartel in March 2013.

Both that incident and these latest arrests underscore the extraordinary extent of corruption in Peru, with 48 percent of respondents to a 2014 public survey (pdf) labeling it one of the country’s three biggest problems.

Jorge Chavez is Peru’s biggest airport and one of the nation’s oldest known drug trafficking gateways. In 2013 the government created the multi-agency Airports Anti-drug Task Force (GETAA) — which InSight Crime reported was supported by the UK’s National Crime Agency (formerly Serious Organized Crime Agency) — with the intention of improving the country’s efforts against trafficking. However, as this latest case proves it is a battle they are far from winning, and with the help of corrupt officials, the airport continues to be popular dispatch point for traffickers. 

While countries such as Colombia have seen considerable success in fighting official corruption and tightening up international entry and exit points, deep-seated corruption among Peruvian security services — similar to that seen in Venezuela — only serves to illustrate the scale of the challenge facing the world’s main cocaine producer in the battle against drug trafficking. 

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