Peruvian police bust arms trafficking ring that supplied weapons to Villavicencio’s assassins

Mar 16, 2024 | 0 comments

Peruvian authorities have arrested 18 people as part of an investigation into an arms trafficking ring and its role in the 2023 assassination of an Ecuadorian presidential candidate.

Some of the weapons that the Peruvian police confiscated during a series of raids in Lima and the border region with Ecuador on Wednesday.

At least 600 police officers raided homes and offices in Lima and in the Tumbes, Cajamarca and Piura regions along Peru’s border with Ecuador on Wednesday.

Among those arrested were Jorge Lamela and Melchor Sanjinez, who have been identified as the ringleaders.
Jorge Chavez, who oversees Peru’s prosecutor’s office against organized crime, said the defendants used three companies to import weapons, mostly from the United States and Turkey.

The scheme involved using ‘legal loopholes’ in which they sought out people with low incomes to apply for and acquire licenses and purchase the firearms.

The weapons would then be reported ‘lost’ and ‘introduced to the black market,’ he added.

At least 17 guns were sold from a shop in the Lima district of Magdalena de Mar.Bookkeeping records showed that five of the weapons made their way to Ecuador.

The firearms eventually were sold to criminal gangs, including Los Lobos, the Ecuador-based gang that orchestrated the murder of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio following a campaign rally on August 9, 2023 in Quito.

The attack was allegedly planned by imprisoned gang leaders Carlos Angulo and Leandro Norero with the assistance of three co-conspirators who hired an assassin squad of six Colombian nationals to execute Villavicencio.

The six gunmen were arrested at a home they used as a hideout and later murdered in prison on October 6, 2023.

Images broadcast on local television showed police on Wednesday seizing handguns, hunting and sports weapons, and long-range rifles, in additional to cell phones, computers and documents.

“Today’s diligence is to demonstrate that this investigation has managed to prevent all these weapons from going on the market and then being distributed to the black market and taken to organized crime or via smuggling to Ecuador,” said commander Willy Gallardo, who oversees the police department’s high complexity investigation division.

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