July 18, 2013
Police arrested former congresswoman Nancy Obregon, a member of President Ollanta Humala’s Nationalist Party, early on Sunday morning in connection to a police investigation into 23 people allegedly linked to drug trafficking and terrorism through the Shining Path.
Obregon, 43, was arrested in her home in Lima’s Pueblo Libre district in a 3 am police raid, according to El Comercio newspaper. The former lawmaker is accused of leading a drug cartel that smuggles cocaine to neighboring countries.
Twenty-two other people were arrested in different operations at the same time. Obregon is to be held in the Dirandro facilities for 15 days for questioning and investigation before the state attorneys decide on whether to imprison her or release her on bail.
Obregon is well-known lawmaker who represented the San Martin region from 2006 to 2011. She has long defended the rights of coca growers, but has consistently denied any involvement in drug production or trafficking.
However, police report that Obregon led a drug trafficking gang that shipped cocaine from the Upper Huallaga Valley, one of Peru’s top coca growing regions, to Bolivia.
Cocaine that is sent to Bolivia, another major drug producer, is often later sent to Brazil and other markets for consumption, El Comercio reports. Obregon is also accused of owning two coca maceration pits in San Martin and other drug-related businesses.
Four Shining Path members and four drug traffickers arrested at different times in the Conquistar 2013 operation, have offered testimony in exchange for lighter sentences and have informed that Obregon held secret meetings with Shining Path leaders of the VRAEM (the Valleys of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers) to ask for armed support against the government’s forced coca eradication programs in the Upper Huallaga valley, encouraging the Shining Path to spread their group to establish a stronger presence further north.
Peru is the world’s top grower of coca leaves. While there is a supervised quota of coca that is grown legally for traditional purposes (for chewing, tea, etc), the vast majority of the crop is turned into cocaine.