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Cable sobre la corrupción en el Ejército peruano

Informe sobre los pagos que realiza el narcotráfico a mandos del Ejército peruano para que la lucha contra el terrorismo no interfiera en sus actividades

ID: 196642
Date: 2009-03-12 21:57:00
Origin: 09LIMA345
Source: Embassy Lima
Classification: SECRET//NOFORN
Dunno: 09LIMA1640 09LIMA1865
Destination: VZCZCXYZ0002

DE RUEHPE #0345/01 0712157
P 122157Z MAR 09

S E C R E T LIMA 000345


E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/13/2034

REF: A. LIMA 1865
B. IIR 6 876 0037 08
C. LIMA 1640
D. IIR 6 876 0018 09

Classified By: Amb. P. Michael McKinley. Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (S/NF) Introduction and Summary: The Garcia
Administration's efforts to combat narcotrafficking have been
stronger than under past administrations, and have included a
National Anti-Drug Strategy partly supported with government
funds, solid progress combatting coca production in the Upper
Huallaga Valley, and better police cooperation. And while
corruption has long plagued Peruvian government institutions,
few observers believe the problem today is anywhere near as
deep or extensive as during the shadowy (1990-2000) reign of
former President Fujimori's intelligence chief Vladimiro
Montesinos. xxxxxxxxxxxx has claimed to Poloffs that remnants of
the Montesinos narco-corruption web still exist within the
military. xxxxxxxxxxxx argues that some senior military
officials receive lucrative payoffs from drug traffickers
operating in the Apurimac and Ene River Valley (VRAE), which
is also the base of one of the most important remnants of the
Shining Path guerrillas. xxxxxxxxxxxx contends that the army -- for
fear of disrupting these drug trafficking networks and losing
access to payoffs -- is unwilling to commit the large force
needed to pacify the VRAE. As a result, xxxxxxxxxxx argues, ongoing
military operations against the Shining Path are destined to
fall short. Some of xxxxxxxxxxxx accusations are corroborated
by other Embassy contacts, press reports, and internal
documents as well as circumstantial evidence. Although the
xxxxxxxxxxxx clearly has an axe to grind against xxxxxxxxxxxx, the evidence calls for close monitoring. In the
meantime, it is apparent that Defense Minister Antero Flores
Araoz is continuing to push the military to build on and
expand new counter-terrorism efforts in the VRAE. (Note:
This cable focuses on military, rather than police corruption
because the military retains principal authority in the VRAE.
The military's recent operations against the Shining Path in
the VRAE are discussed Septel. End Note.) End Introduction
and Summary.

Army Command Dismantles Military Operations in the VRAE (2004)
--------------------------------------------- ------------
2. (S/NF) Corruption has long plagued Peruvian government
institutions, including the security services -- military,
police and judicial. Former President Alberto Fujimori's
(1990-2000) intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos, for
example, collaborated with top army and other security
officials to develop a web of protection for favored drug
traffickers while cooperating with U.S. officials to combat
others. To many observers, that was Peru's "heyday" of
narco-corruption -- a time when the government of Peru verged
on becoming a kind of "narco-state" in which those who
controlled the main criminal trafficking networks were in
fact high government officials. While most observers
acknowledge that Peru has come a long way since that time,
sharply reducing the extent of such subterranean influences,
few believe that drug-related corruption has been eliminated
and some believe it may now again be on the rise.
xxxxxxxxxxx argues that significant elements
of this corrupt network continue to exist and to operate --
now under the control of second-tier officers from the
Montesinos period.

3. (S/NF) Many of xxxxxxxxxx principle accusations
stem from corruption xxxxxxxxxx says xxxxxxxxxxx witnessed xxxxxxxxxx in Ayacucho (which includes part of
the VRAE). At that time xxxxxxxxxx launched a
counter-insurgency operation that xxxxxxxxxx claimed some senior army
officers later dismantled when it threatened their own
corrupt interests. xxxxxxxxxx used a small salary
increase approved by then-President Alejandro Toledo to
recruit auxiliary troops from local self-defense groups in
the VRAE to build xxxxxxxxxxxx forces from 300 to 3,500 troops.
xxxxxxxxxx deployed these troops to small bases of about 100
soldiers each, spread throughout the VRAE in Ayacucho.
xxxxxxxxxxx told Poloff xxxxxxxxxxx such bases would be better
positioned to resist insurgents and drug traffickers than the
isolated outposts of five to seven soldiers -- the model in
use at the time -- who regularly accepted bribes rather than
risk confronting superior forces. (A variety of articles and
investigative news programs from 2004 confirmed this
de scription xxxxxxxxxxxx.)

4. (S/NF) xxxxxxxxxxx however, the army
xxxxxxxxxxx dismantled xxxxxxxxxxx and reduced troop levels to
700. xxxxxxxxxxxx threatened lucrative sales of excess fuel by senior army
officers to drug traffickers. xxxxxxxxxxxx

Excess Fuel Scandal Implicates Top Generals (2006)
--------------------------------------------- -----
5. (S/NF)xxxxxxxxxxx the excess military fuel
scandal that erupted in 2006 is linked to the army's drug
trafficking ties in the VRAE. The scandal broke when the
press denounced a scheme by some senior generals to request
hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel in 2006 for sale and
personal enrichment. xxxxxxxxxxx that about half this fuel
was sold to companies like Repsol, while the rest, in the
form of kerosene, was sold to drug traffickers in the VRAE.
One prominent counter-narcotics analyst told Poloff he had
seen evidence that the military had sold kerosene to drug
traffickers in northern Peru, and -- although he did not have
evidence -- believed it plausible they have also sold to
traffickers in the VRAE. Prosecutors have since implicated
dozens of Generals in the scheme to commercialize fuel,
including then Army commander Cesar Reinoso -- who was forced
to resign -- and his replacement Edwin Donayre. Reinoso
later claimed that the scheme was nothing new and that nearly
all senior generals participated. (Note: Officers are
officially provided periodic fuel allotments, usually more
than can be reasonably consumed, and consider this a
perquisite that complements their base salary. End Note.)
Army Commanding General Donayre retired from the military on
December 5 -- putatively for his politically inflammatory
comments relating to Chile (Ref A) -- but in the view of some
observers for other reasons as well, including his alleged
involvement in the fuel skimming scheme. xxxxxxxxxx

6. (S/NF) Peru's Public Ministry is currently investigating
the fuel scandal, so far without results. In a series of
recent articles published in the political weekly "Caretas,"
prominent investigative journalist Gustavo Gorriti has
alleged an army cover-up. Gorriti reported that General
Donayre declined to meet Public Ministry investigators on six
separate occasions, and that he reassigned the army's
internal inspector to a remote jungle posting after the
inspector issued a damning report on the scandal. Gorriti
also reported that the GOP's independent Comptroller in 2008
completed an investigation that said the military used clumsy
counterfeit documentation to "justify" over $2 million in
excess fuel. xxxxxxxxxxx told Poloffs that the army is
withholding internal accounting documents that would help
prove the investigators case. xxxxxxxxxxx gave Poloff what xxxxxxxxx said
were copies of these documents, marked "Secret", that showed
hundreds of thousands of gallons of "extraordinary fuel"
allotments to various generals in 2004 and 2005.

Cocaine Exported Via Army Base in Northern Peru (2004)
--------------------------------------------- ------
7. (S/NF) xxxxxxxxxxx told Poloff he believed a drug
trafficking operation uncovered by police in 2004 at an army
base in Piura in northern Peru was also linked to some senior
military officials and drugs exiting the VRAE. According to
a series of investigative reports by a prominent newspaper, a
junior officer gave traffickers linked to a Mexican cartel
free rein to use the base and its military vehicles to
transit cocaine shipments to a military port where the navy
ran a fish-packing operation. At the port, the traffickers
packed the drugs in with the fish for export. In the 2004
bust, police captured 700 kg of cocaine. The commander of
the base at the time, General Williams Zapata -- now Peru's
representative at the Inter-American Defense Board in
Washington -- refused to comment beyond claiming that the
military was not involved with drug trafficking.
xxxxxxxxxx however, told Poloff
that the implicated junior officer as well as another
perpetrator privately alleged that both General Zapata and
another unnamed senior general had participated in the drug
operation. (Note: Currently, the junior officer is detained
in Brazil, awaiting possible extradition, and the other
offender is in prison in Piura awaiting trial. End Note.)

8. (S/NF) xxxxxxxxx saw signs that
officers may have continued to cooperate with drug
traffickers. His main suspicion surrounded a visit to the
base that year by the Director of the National Chamber of
Fishing of Piura, Rolando Eugenio Velasco Heysen, to meet
regional Army commander General Paul da Silva. xxxxxxxxxx
speculated that Da Silva and Velasco -- who was arrested in
October 2007 for attempting to export 840 kilograms of
cocaine hidden in frozen fish -- were coordinating drug
shipments. An investigative journalist later reported that
both Da Silva and General Edwin Donayre had met with Velasco,
but that Velasco claimed he was merely promoting the
consumption of high-protein squid by the army. xxxxxxxxxxxxx
claims this argument makes no sense because the Generals'
meetings with Velasco occurred outside the time of year that
the Army signs new contracts.

Counter-Drug Analysts on Possible Narco-Army Links
--------------------------------------------- -----
9. (S/NF) A prominent Peruvian counter-drug analyst who
travels regularly to the VRAE agreed with the assessment that
some senior army commanders were complicit with drug
trafficking. He further believed the military was beginning
to recuperate the political power that it had in the 1990s
under President Alberto Fujimori's spy chief Vladimiro
Montesinos, when senior military officers worked
surreptitiously and closely with (certain) drug traffickers.
This analyst said that on his last trip to the VRAE, a local
mayor told him the military controlled all the main riverine
drug routes, and that officers charged protection money
rather than staunch the flow. A second analyst who travels
regularly to the VRAE said he had clear evidence that the
military controlled at least one major drug route (through
Cayramayo) and charged bribes from passing drug traffickers.

10. (S/NF) The analysts also highlighted the case of a drug
plane that crashed in October 2007 while trying to take off
from a clandestine airstrip in VRAE. According to a report
in the left-of-center newspaper La Republica, the airstrip
was located in direct view of a military base. The paper's
local sources said that no plane could take off or land
without being spotted from the base. The first analyst said
his sources in the area told him the army had actually built
the airstrip. According to a DAO source, after the plane
crashed, an army unit sought to destroy any evidence by
cutting up the wreckage and dumping it in the river (Ref B).
The national police received a tip about the army's actions
and recovered the plane, but did not report the incident in
order to avoid inflaming already tense relations with the
military. Army sources told La Republica, however, that the
plane was the first they had ever discovered in the area and
that they immediately reported it to the police.

Implications for Military Operations in the VRAE
--------------------------------------------- ---
11. (S/NF) xxxxxxxxxxx several analysts argued
that the military are reluctant to implement a serious plan
to pacify the VRAE because the payoffs from drug traffickers
are too profitable. These contacts dismissed the recent
Operation Excellence in Vizcatan (Ref C and Septel) as too
small to have any real impact in such a large and harsh
terrain. The operation may temporarily displace Shining Path
cells, they said, but it will not deter drug traffickers.
One analyst described the operation as a smokescreen designed
to deflect increasing political pressure on the army to show
results. Another analyst argued that the operation appeared
to be a serious effort to decapitate Shining Path while at
the same time avoiding the disruption of profitable drug
trafficking routes. xxxxxxxxxxx

Comment: A Series of Worrying Indicators
12. (S/NF) xxxxxxxxxx the limited and tentative progress by the
military in the VRAE to date does give some plausibility to
xxxxxxxxxx argument that the some army officials may not support the
larger objectives of the ongoing operations in the VRAE. We
will continue to closely monitor evidence of drug corruption
in the military and to encourage the government to
consolidate and expand on the first steps taken during
Operation Excellence.