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AN UNKNOWN DRUG-TRAFFICKING GROUP ATTACKED THE ECUADORIAN ARMED FORCES AIRCRAFT IN EL DERRUMBE, AND THE NATIONAL POLICE OF PERU ARRESTED 25 PEOPLE RELATED TO "DROP BY DROP" LOAN SCHEME

March 14-20, 2024 | Issue 11 - SOUTHCOM

Kiara Alexander, Ignacio Minuesa, Marta Vanti, Enrico Dal Cin, Joseph Pollard

Christina Valdez, Editor; Alya Fathia Fitri, Senior Editor


El Derrumbe[1]


Date: March 14, 2024

Location: El Derrumbe, San Lorenzo Cantón, Ecuador

Parties involved: Ecuador; Ecuadorian Armed Forces (FFAA); Colombia; Colombian Military Forces (FFMM); drug-trafficking groups; local communities

The event: On Thursday afternoon, the FFAA reported an attack on one of their aircraft performing military operations against drug trafficking laboratories in El Derrumbe, on the border of Ecuador and Colombia. The FFAA reported drug operations in the location prior to the attack. An unknown drug-trafficking group attacked the aircraft from Colombia when the FFAA attempted to dismantle and arrest the criminals involved. The attack did not cause any casualties.[2] 

Analysis & Implications:

  • The attack on the Ecuadorian military aircraft will very likely raise security concerns for the FFAA, almost certainly increasing military operations in the region to dismantle the drug laboratories in El Derrumbe. Colombia will very likely raise security concerns on this side of the border increasing FFMM regional security and straining the operations of the drug trafficker. The drug-trafficking organizations operating in the area will very likely transfer drug laboratories to another region on the border of Ecuador and Colombia not subjected to strong surveillance, very likely decelerating their operations and logistics in this process.

  • The displacement of drug-production hubs in the border area, caused by the FFAA pressure will likely impact local communities. Local communities will likely be subject to intimidation tactics by drug-trafficking groups arriving in the area, such as acts of extortion and violence to ensure complacency of the local population and assert their authority. Groups operating on different sides of the border will likely expose the local population to potential disputes, likely exposing them to violent acts by drug-trafficking groups attempting to gain territorial advantages. Ecuadorian security efforts against the new laboratories will likely lead to confrontations with the drug-trafficking groups, likely threatening local communities to potential firefights, makeshift mines, and other improvised security measures meant to deter Ecuadorian security operations.


Date: March 16, 2024

Location: Comas, Lima, Peru

Parties involvedPeru; Peru government; National Police of Peru (PNP); Homicide Investigation Division; Criminal Investigation Directorate (DIRINCRI); Peruvian Prosecutors Office; Local Peruvian gangs; Latin American gangs; Peruvian citizens; Venezuelan citizens; Colombian citizens;

The event: The PNP conducted a raid of a condominium resulting in the arrest of 25 people, a significant portion being Colombia and Venezuela nationals, and the seizure of money, firearms, and explosive devices. The PNP was able to disband the criminal gang engaged in extortion of local Peruvians in a “drop by drop” loan scheme, an informal method to secure money with high-interest rates and severe consequences for failure of repayment. Intelligence collection from victims of the gang’s extortion prompted the operation. Police transported those arrested to DIRINCRI facilities where they await trial.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The arrests are very likely to prompt other Venezuelan and Colombian organized crime gangs running similar drop by drop extortion schemes in Peru to escalate the intimidation of victims, likely including violence to deter collaboration with the PNP and law enforcement.  Violence will likely be a means of retaliation against those who collaborated with law enforcement. Without explicit guarantees of police protection for informants, violent reprisals will likely be effective in deterring victim collaboration with the police, very likely undermining the ability of law enforcement to pursue other gangs involved in drop by drop extortion schemes. 

  • The PNP is likely to enhance their surveillance of Venezuelan and Colombian communities to accomplish successful counter-operations against organized crime groups in the country. Enhanced surveillance will likely lead to more arrests of civilians with international gang affiliations, likely decreasing the crime rate. Protests regarding the targeted surveillance of these two communities are unlikely to occur by local civilians as Peru’s government and law enforcement will likely convey it as beneficial for public safety. Resentment and frustration regarding the PNP are very likely to increase in Venezuelan and Colombian communities, very likely negatively impacting the livelihoods and public perception of those fleeing their home countries.


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[1] Ignacio Minuesa via Google Maps

[2] Aircraft of the Armed Forces of Ecuador was attacked from Colombia: this is known, Infobae, March 2024,

[3] PNP dismantles band dedicated to the ‘drop by drop’ loan that kept explosives in the Comas condominium, Infobae, March 2024, https://www.infobae.com/peru/2024/03/16/pnp-desarticula-banda-dedicada-al-gota-a-gota-que-guardaba-explosivos-en-condominio-de-comas (Translated by Google)

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