Capture of Peruvian drug kingpin won't stem tide
Arrest of Florindo Flores will not halt production of cocaine in region
The capture and arrest of Peruvian drug lord Florindo Flores, the last major leader of the Maoist rebel group Sendero Luminoso will not stem the tide in the cultivation and production of cocaine in the region. Drug mafias remain active in the Huallaga Valley and in the Amazon jungle in northern Peru. There are an estimated 13,000 hectares of coca and approximately 100 tons of cocaine produced there annually, which will not be affected by the arrest of Flores, alias "Artemio."
Florindo Flores, alias 'Artemio, the 'Sendero Luminoso or 'Shining Path' leader was shot on Feb. 9 but was not actually found until Feb. 12, with a badly injured and infected hand.
The Sendero Luminoso or "Shining Path" leader was not actually found until Feb. 12, with a badly injured and infected hand.
"It is without a doubt a very important capture, but the drug trafficking industry will continue operating," Nobel Panduro, an experienced radio journalist says.
"Artemio forged strong ties with the coca growers and the trafficking 'firms', but his imprisonment will not prevent them from finding someone else to protect their operations, whether a member of Sendero Luminoso or anyone else who has an armed group." Panduro interviewed Artemio in 2001, 2003 and 2006.
"Sendero Luminoso received 'cupos' (war tax payments) from the drug traffickers to make sure drug production continued unimpaired, which is why the Maoists attacked the antinarcotics forces and the teams tasked with 'eradicating' coca crops (by hand). With Artemio in prison, anyone who can offer the mafias security will replace him," he added.
Artemio was born in 1961 in Camaná, a coastal town in southern Peru. After completing his compulsory military service, he joined Sendero Luminoso at the age of 20. The rebel group was founded in 1970 by Abimael Guzmán, who was captured in 1992 and is serving a life sentence at a naval base.
The 50-year-old Artemio quickly rose up in the ranks of Sendero; thanks to the military commando training he received in the army.
In a 1988 meeting, Artemio is seen sitting next to Guzmán and the rest of the group's top leaders, which confirmed his status in the organization, where he was in command of the Huallaga Regional Committee where the main trafficking organizations active in the flourishing drug trade were based.
When Guzmán was captured in 1992 and declared the end of the armed struggle against the Peruvian state, Artemio refused to surrender. The Sendero remnant he led survived the governments of presidents Alberto Fujimori, who served until 2000, Alejandro Toledo who served until 2006 and Alan Garcia's second term that lasted until 2011.
"The drug traffickers have lost a major source of support with Artemio's capture. But the armed apparatus that he headed remains intact," reporter Felipe Páucar says.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Peru, Shining Path, Florindo Flore, cocaine
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