Peru: anti-drug chief who suspended coca eradication resigns

Ricardo Sober贸n, the anti-drug chief who last year briefly suspended coca eradication in Peru, resigned under pressure from the administration of President Ollanta Humala Jan. 10. The Council of Ministers (cabinet) appointed Carmen Mas铆as Claux, a psychologist who is an advocate of eradication, to replace Sober贸n as head of the National Commission for Development and Life without Drugs (DEVIDA). The Council of Ministers is now led by the man who was interior minister at the time of Sober贸n’s suspension of the program, Oscar Valdes鈥攚ho publicly disagreed with the suspension, and ordered the program’s resumption within a week.

In October, chief of intelligence for the US Drug Enforcement Administration Rodney Benson told a Congressional hearing that “although Colombia remains the world’s largest cultivator of coca, for the first time in over a decade, the US government estimates that Peru has surpassed Colombia in potential pure cocaine production.” (AP, BBC News, RPP, Jan. 10)

The day after Sober贸n’s resignation, elite National Police troops of the Anti-Drug Jungle Tactics Operations Group (GOATJ), a unit of the police force’s Anti-Drug Directorate (DIRANDRO), reported uncovering two coca labs and burning 750 kilos of coca leaf found in ten plastic sacks at a site within the borders of Tingo Maria National Park, Hu谩nuco region. (InfoRegi贸n, Jan. 11)