Peru
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    Profile

    Peru

    Capital

    Lima

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 226,848.05 million

    Income group

    Upper middle income

    Population

    32,510,453

    Area

    1,285,220 km²

    Geography type

    Coastal

    6.35

    Criminality score

    26th of 193 countries

    9th of 35 countries in Americas

    5th of 12 countries in South America

    Criminal market

    6.20

    Human trafficking

    7.00

    Human smuggling

    6.00

    Arms trafficking

    5.50

    Flora crimes

    7.00

    Fauna crimes

    5.50

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    9.00

    Heroin trade

    3.50

    Cocaine trade

    9.00

    Cannabis trade

    5.50

    Synthetic drug trade

    4.00

    Criminal actors

    6.50

    Mafia-style groups

    6.00

    Criminal networks

    8.00

    State-embedded actors

    7.00

    Foreign actors

    5.00

    4.58

    Resilience score

    106th of 193 countries

    23rd of 35 countries in Americas

    8th of 12 countries in South America

    Political leadership and governance

    3.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    5.50

    International cooperation

    5.00

    National policies and laws

    6.00

    Judicial system and detention

    6.00

    Law enforcement

    5.00

    Territorial integrity

    5.00

    Anti-money laundering

    4.50

    Economic regulatory capacity

    4.00

    Victim and witness support

    3.50

    Prevention

    3.00

    Non-state actors

    4.50

    4.58 6.50 6.20 4.58 6.50 6.20

    4.58

    Resilience score

    106th of 193 countries

    23rd of 35 countries in Americas

    8th of 12 countries in South America

    Political leadership and governance

    3.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    5.50

    International cooperation

    5.00

    National policies and laws

    6.00

    Judicial system and detention

    6.00

    Law enforcement

    5.00

    Territorial integrity

    5.00

    Anti-money laundering

    4.50

    Economic regulatory capacity

    4.00

    Victim and witness support

    3.50

    Prevention

    3.00

    Non-state actors

    4.50

    Analysis

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    People

    Peru is a source and destination country for human trafficking, mainly for sexual and labour exploitation and, to a lesser extent, child adoption and organ trafficking. The majority of victims are Peruvian nationals trafficked abroad and foreign citizens, particularly from Venezuela and Colombia, trafficked to the country with false employment offers. Human trafficking, including in the form of labour exploitation, also takes place around illegal mining operations, because the areas tend to be isolated and lack government presence. The market is led by local crime organizations working in collusion with corrupt government officials and, in some cases, in partnership with foreign actors.

    Peru is also a transit point for human smuggling, including migrants from Haiti and Senegal travelling to Brazil and people from the Dominican Republic trying to reach Chile. The influx of Venezuelan migrants, which had been rising in recent years, has dwindled since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Smuggling is largely carried out by individuals linked to land transport companies.

    Trade

    Peru is a transit point for illegal weapons from the US and Mexico to Colombia, and the market is closely linked to drug production and trade. The country is also home to a grey market in small firearms, ammunition and projectiles, mostly stolen or bought from corrupt law enforcement. This illicit market is also the source of weapons for terrorist groups operating in the country.

    Environment

    A very substantial portion of Peru’s timber trade is illegal and accounts for much of the country’s flora-crimes market, with both illegally harvested local wood and timber from Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador sent to the Amazon region for transport to countries including Mexico and the United States. Rising official corruption and the lack of effective controls, regulations and government capacity to enforce laws facilitate this illegal market. Fauna trafficking is also substantial in Peru, with most species meeting both local and foreign demand, and the market controlled by a mix of national and international crime networks aided by lenient policies. Trafficked species include birds such as the white-winged parakeet and green macaw, which are sold as pets; larger animals such as Andean bears, vicuñas, monkeys and various cats, which are sold for meat; and other species, including reptiles and amphibians sold for medicinal purposes or to the fashion industry. Furthermore, there is considerable illegal fishing.

    As the top gold producer in the region, illegal gold mining is a key criminal market in Peru, particularly in the regions bordering Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador, with exports mainly flowing in the direction of the United States and Europe. The illegal gold-mining sector is controlled by a mix of local miners, middlemen, powerful family-based networks, foreign armed groups, and politicians.

    Drugs

    Authorities have reported the existence of some poppy plantations in remote areas of Peru, with opium mainly exported to Ecuador and Colombia for conversion into heroin. The local heroin market is very limited. Conversely, Peru is the second-largest producer of cocaine in the world, with local family clans managing logistics, working alongside Serbian, Mexican and Colombian mafias, and aided by corrupt officials, mainly to serve the international trade as domestic consumption is very limited. Some of the main routes go through Mexico for the US market and Brazil for the European market, with some shipments sent directly to Oceania and Japan. Authorities allow for the controlled cultivation of coca leaves in some areas of the country and, while they are making efforts to manually eradicate illegal coca plantations, they do not seem to be tackling the extent of the market.

    Regarding cannabis, the cultivation, transport and sale of medicinal marijuana is legal in the country, and small criminal networks serve the local illegal market. The government is also focusing on eradicating illegal crops across the country. Peru is a transit point for synthetic drugs, with the market run by loose criminal networks and the product destined mainly for Chile as well as a small local consumption market.

    Criminal Actors

    Crime organizations in Peru tend to be relatively small, operate locally and sit somewhere between mafia-style groups and criminal networks, with the most active being Shining Path, an armed organization with significant access to weapons and linked to drug trafficking and other criminal activities. Other similar organizations tend to specialize in specific criminal markets, such as timber and drug trafficking, and have a strong presence and control in criminally strategic areas with limited government reach. The country is also home to loose criminal networks that control specific markets in coordination with hired individuals and powerful international groups.

    Crime organizations are deeply embedded in Peruvian institutions, with scores of officials, including members of law-enforcement agencies, parliamentarians and even judges, under investigation for providing security for the transport of illicit goods or protection of criminals. Furthermore, a number of prominent international crime groups operate in Peru, with Colombian and Mexican mafias historically controlling the cocaine-trafficking market and actors from countries including Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Serbia and Italy involved in an array of criminal activities.

    Leadership and governance

    Peru suffers high levels of corruption, reaching the highest levels of government and seriously affecting governance. This is reflected in the ongoing changes in the executive branch over the last two years, with several presidents having faced charges related to the administration of state contracts, bribery and money laundering, and either under investigation, behind bars or on the run from justice. Authorities at the regional level, including provincial mayors, have also been accused of crimes including collusion with drug traffickers and illegal loggers. Although, on paper, good public policies and a budget increase to strengthen law-enforcement and judicial capacity would seem to reflect an official interest in tackling organized crime, corruption is still a major concern.

    The country appears to have a relatively robust legal framework to tackle organized crime, including asset seizure, although not covering illegal wildlife trade. Peru has signed the majority of relevant international treaties and conventions pertaining to organized crime and has extradition agreements with a number of countries in the region. Although these have been tested in several high-level cases, some of the other laws are not as effectively implemented and the judiciary seems to be overly focused on high-level cases alone.

    Criminal justice and security

    Peru’s judiciary is made up of a network of courts, including one specialized in organized crime and corruption at the hands of government officials. While the Peruvian judicial system has been relatively successful in dealing with high-level cases, it has been rather slow and ineffective when dealing with lower-profile ones. Law-enforcement agencies also have bodies specialized in complex crimes, as does the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which has had some success, particularly in cases involving top government officials. The prison system suffers from some of the challenges that are common to the rest of the region, with overcrowding being one main issue.

    Territorially, Peru’s suitability for coca leaf cultivation and vast ungoverned areas make the country a strategic hub for the international cocaine trade, enabling a criminal landscape to develop and flourish. Its location bordering Brazil’s large domestic market and international routes also make it a particularly useful location for crime organizations.

    Economic and financial environment

    Peru has made important improvements over recent years when it comes to the institutions, laws, cooperation, credibility of operators and others related to the fight against money laundering, including the establishment of a national plan to tackle it. The country’s financial intelligence unit is also reported to have frozen millions of dollars in suspicious funds. Despite this, such funds continue to flow through local banks and the country is still believed to be at high risk for money laundering and terrorism financing. The activities of crime groups, particularly in the north of the country, have helped the local economy grow but also opened the door for crimes including extortion to develop, which make many areas of the country not particularly friendly for business.

    Civil society and social protection

    Over recent years, authorities in Peru have increased their efforts to identify and protect victims of human trafficking, including the provision of assistance to victims and protection to witnesses through national legislation and a network of shelters. However, issues still persist, particularly when it comes to resource availability. Peru is also home to vibrant civil society organizations, although, in some areas, the lack of protection has put the lives of many activists, particularly those working to protect the environment, at very high risk. Furthermore, despite the existence of a wide range of independent investigative outlets, journalists who cover social or environmental conflicts, expose cases of corruption or investigate drug traffickers' influence on state institutions, risk legal dissuasion or harsher crackdowns.

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    The criminal markets score is represented by the pyramid base size and the criminal actors score is represented by the pyramid height, on a scale ranging from 1 to 10. The resilience score is represented by the panel height, which can be identified by the side of the panel.

    This report was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State.

    ENACT is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Security Studies and INTERPOL, in affiliation with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

    The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.