But one Peruvian official displayed photos of what he said were DEA agents in recent raids on jungle cocaine labs. The men appeared to be American and were dressed in fatigues and carrying automatic weapons.
The U.S. Embassy in Lima confirmed that U.S. government helicopters were used in recent operations against remnants of the Shining Path, a longtime Maoist guerrilla group that is involved in cocaine operations in Peru’s southern jungles.
After his election victory last year, Peru’s populist president, Ollanta Humalla, appointed drug czar Ricardo Soberon, a progressive who surprised Washington by suspending a U.S.-backed coca eradication plan.
But Mr. Humalla has replaced Mr. Soberon with Carmen Masias, a hard-liner who has since pushed an aggressive counternarcotics initiative more aligned with Colombian policy.
According to the national drug control agency known as Devida, Peru’s government plans to eradicate 271,800 acres of coca bushes by 2016. The government says the plan would cut coca production by 30 percent.
Moreover, Devida reported recently that seizures of chemicals used to turn coca leaves into cocaine are expected to rise to a record 1,650 tons this year.