Peru Security Threats

Data and information about security threats from Peru’s black market. Intelligence and security information collected from government agencies, news articles and other public data sources.

In 2011, around $3 Billion in gold that was illegally mined in Peru was exported out of the country.

International monitors estimate that over 20 percent of gold mining activities in the country is done illegally. In the region of Madre de Dios, up to 97 percent of the mining is done by unauthorized miners. Many of the illegal mines employ children, as tens of thousands of children are believed to be working in the mines.

Source:  Roberto A. Ferdman, “Peru exports more illegal gold than cocaine, and it’s the world’s biggest exporter of cocaine,” Quartz, September 30, 2013.

From June 2011 to June 2013, security agencies in Peru identified and rescued around 2,000 people who were victims of human trafficking in the country. 42 percent of the victims identified were minors.

During the two year period, criminal sentences were handed out to 26 people.

Criminal justice officials state that one of the mining industry contributes to the human trafficking problem in Peru. In the mining town of La Rinconada on the border of Bolivia, an estimated 4,000 underage girls are forced to work as prostitutes.

Source: Marguerite Cawley, “Peru Rescues 2,000 Human Trafficking Victims in 2 Year,” Insight Crime, September 24, 2013.

A security investigator working in Peru explained to the Associated Press the process of making fake money that made Peru the number one producer of counterfeit US dollars.

In order to make counterfeit money, the counterfeiters use off the shelf software such as Corel Draw or Microsoft Office to design the dollar bill.  Using a process called photolithography and the etching of metal plates, the bills are offset printed onto bond paper.

The sheets of fake money are then lightly coated with a varnish and then individually hand cut. The security strip of the bill, which can be seen when a real $100 bill is held up to a light, is inserted into the fake bill using needles and glued with the use of a medical syringe.

The counterfeit bills then pass through a machine with rollers to give the bill a rough texture. Finally, the fake bills are sanded down with sandpaper.

To create a batch of $300,000 counterfeit notes usually takes about four to five days.

Security officials state that counterfeiters earn a profit of $20,000 for every $100,000 in counterfeit dollars they make, or 20 cents for each fake dollar created.

(Profits and income from illegal jobs.)

Only fake $100 are smuggled into the United States, with fake $10s and $20s bills being smuggled to neighboring Argentina and Venezuela. The bills are smuggled the same way that cocaine is smuggled, through the use of false-bottom suitcases and even rolled up and swallowed.

The United States Secret Service stated that the counterfeit dollars are easily passed into circulation at retail stores.

Source:  Associated Press, “In Peru, U.S. dollar counterfeiting “more profitable than cocaine”,” CBS News, September 5, 2013.


According to security officials in Peru, drug traffickers offer people between $6,670 to $9,300 (€5,000 to €7,000) to smuggle illegal drugs into Spain.

A kilogram of cocaine sells for $45,000 in Europe.

In 2012, at least 248 foreigners were arrested at Peru’s Lima airport attempting to smuggle drugs to the United States, Europe and Asia. 62 of the arrested drug smuggles were from Spain.

(Price of cocaine by country.)

Source:  AFP, “Peruvian drug traffickers prey on young Europeans,” Google News, August 22, 2013.

As of August 2013, there were reportedly over 30 citizens of Britain who were serving time inside prisons in Peru for drug trafficking crimes, according to a report by the Associated Press.

In 2012, Peru produced the most cocaine in the world, surpassing Colombia.

Source: Associated Press, “Peru police video shows young drug-smuggling suspects,” Washington Post, August 13, 2013.

In 2011, officials in Peru seized 2,962 cultural artifacts throughout the year from being smuggled out of the country. The average number of items seized per month equaled 247 each month.

In 2012, the number of artifacts and antiques seized by officials decreased to 1,870, an average of 155 per month.

In the first five months of 2013, authorities seized 367 artifacts in Peru, a rate of 73 items per month.

Despite the decrease in seizures, Peruvian authorities still registered 115 stolen artifacts that have been lost during the first 4 months of 2013. Between 2007 till May 2013, the Ministry of Culture has registered 3,470 stolen pieces of artifacts that have been stolen from Peru.

(More about antique smuggling and art theft.)

Source:  Peggy Pindo, “Peru targets smuggling of cultural goods,” Infosurhoy, July 15, 2013.

In the Madre de Dios region of Peru, 85 percent of fuel sales is used to operate machinery for illegal mining operations. Only 15 percent of all fuel sales is used for automobiles.

The illegal mining machinery requires 70 to 80 gallons of fuel to operate per day.

The area, located on the borders of Peru, Brazil, and Bolivia, has seen an increase illegal mining. Government officials estimate that up to 97 percent of the miners working in the region are unregistered.

Source:  Marguerite Cawley, “High Fuel Demand Highlights Illegal Mining in Peru Amazon,” Insight Crime, July 15, 2013.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy stated that the amount of cocaine produced in the Andes region in 2012 was down 10 percent from the previous year.

Bolivia produced 155 metric tons of pure cocaine in 2012, down 18 percent from 2011.

Colombia produced 175 metric tons, down 7.9 percent from the previous year.

Peru produced 290 metric tons, down 4.9 percent from the year before.

In the span of 10 years, the amount of cocaine produced in the region declined by 41 percent.

The three countries are the largest producers of cocaine in the world, with the United States being the largest consumers of cocaine worldwide.

Source:  Eric Martin, “Cocaine Output in Andes Region Falls 10% Amid Eradication Effort,” Bloomberg, July 9, 2013.

An estimated 300,000 illegal immigrants from Bolivia and Paraguay and 45,000 from Peru live in the Sao Paulo area of Brazil.

Security officials in Brazil report that many of the illegal immigrants in the country use the services of human smugglers to enter the country and then fall victim to labor traffickers.

Police highlighted a case of 80 laborers from Bangladesh were rescued from forced-labor conditions in Brazil. The 80 migrants paid a human smuggler $10,000 to be smuggled from Bangladesh to Brazil.

(More human smuggling fees and prices.)

Official data from criminal justice programs in Brazil state that around 44,000 people have been rescued from forced labor conditions in Brazil between 1995 and 2013.

Source:  Astrid Prange, “Growth makes Brazil a hub for human trafficking,” Deutsche Welle, June 4, 2013.

Between 2010 and May 2013, law enforcement authorities in Peru have arrested 296 people for counterfeiting US dollars and broken up seven gangs who were organizing the production of counterfeit money.

Up to 17 percent of the fake US dollars in circulation in the United States were produced in Peru.

Police in Peru seized $24 Million in fake dollars in 2012, along with nearly $23 Million worth of counterfeit Euro bills and counterfeit Peruvian Sols.

In Peru, 0.5 percent of the money in circulation is counterfeits. In the United States, less than 0.01 percent of the dollars in circulation is fake.

Source:  Simeon Tegel, “Peru: Counterfeit currency king,” GlobalPost, May 28, 2013.