LIMA, Peru – Mexican traffickers are invading Peru's cocaine trade, so President Alan Garcia said Thursday he is inviting Mexican police to come and help battle them.
"Mexican cartels have captured or are trying to capture the Peruvian market," Garcia told a gathering of foreign reporters. He said it resulted from a "strategic shift" away from Colombian cartels that are now producing the raw material for cocaine in their own country.
Garcia said he suggested that Mexican President Felipe Calderon send police when the two leaders met at weekend summit in Lima.
"We have a growing influence by those cartels," Garcia said, "and what we want is to help Mexico and help ourselves with this direct cooperation, the direct presence of police from other countries that have this problem."
He did not elaborate on what Mexican police might do in Peru and he did not say how Calderon responded, though the leaders agreed in principle to collaborate against the cartels.
Drug-trafficking experts say Mexican cartels have developed ties with remnants of the Maoist Shining Path rebel movement, long-dormant after nearly bringing Peru's government to its knees in the 1990s but now flush with cash from ties to the drug trade.
At least 80 soldiers or police officers have been killed in Peru's coca-producing valleys since 2004, including four officers who died in an ambush by suspected Shining Path rebels on Wednesday, Congressman Luis Gonzalez Posada told Peru's legislature Thursday.
Colombia and Peru also collaborate in the war on drugs, but Colombian police do not work directly in Peru, police spokesman Col. Carlos Galvez told the Associated Press.
A Peruvian expert on drug trafficking, Roger Rumrill, told said that Garcia's proposal is "mind-boggling" and "absurd" given the "complete failure of the militarization of the war on drugs and the high levels of violence and corruption in Mexico."
Mexico has repeatedly tried to rid its police and law enforcement agencies of officials corrupted by drug cartels, which are often heavily stocked with fired former police and soldiers. Recent arrests include the country's former top anti-drug prosecutor and its chief police liaison with Interpol.