The capture of the head of Peru's own "Mara Salvatrucha" is likely an example of Central America's MS13 inspiring similar -- but probably unconnected -- criminal operations far from home.
On July 26, Peru's counternarcotics police arrested David Bazán Arévalo, the mayor of Tocache, on charges of financing and supplying weapons of war to a narco-terrorist faction of the Shining Path operating in the Huallaga River region since the 1980s. Ojo Público accessed official documents detailing the investigation of Bazán Arévalo as an alleged member of a drug trafficking organization and as a coordinator and financer of a 2007 terrorist attack that killed a public prosecutor and three police officers in Tocache.
A large cocaine seizure in a dismantled clandestine lab and repeated ambushes against security forces point to persistent criminal activity in Peru's main coca-growing region, despite previous militarized operations against crime groups in the area.
On the surface, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's 9-year sentence for corruption seems reminiscent of numerous corruption cases targeting former or current presidents in Latin America. But behind the accusations are varying degrees of collusion and control, from heading a criminal enterprise to a one-off criminal act of personal enrichment.