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Extortion spreads throughout the country: cases of threats and violent reprisals increase

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To the order of the day and without any scruple. The extortion have increased alarmingly in recent years throughout the country (even in small towns), although Lima, Callao and Trujillo are the scenarios where this type of crime, which consists of obtaining money or another benefit from a person through the use of of threats and intimidation, is commented on more frequently.

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One of the latest cases occurred on February 21, when criminals shot four times to a motorcycle taxi driver (Leonardo Alexander Caripe Brito) in Los Olivos, for refusing to pay quotas. As if that were not enough, the crime was recorded and the video shared on social networks as a threat to the rest of the carriers in the area.

A similar event was recorded on February 1 in Campoy, San Juan de Lurigancho. A man was killed by six shots to the head inside his home. Apparently, the victim was confused with his brother, who has a civil construction company and who for weeks had been receiving threats against his life by telephone. Strangers demand thousands of soles.

Meanwhile, in Trujillo, agents from the Criminal Investigation Division (Divincri) captured four members of a gang of extortionists posing as delivery men on the 16th of this month. One of the victims, owner of a restaurant, said that the criminals left a letter at the door of her business along with a bullet. She asked him for a quota.

Since approximately 2000, a large number of criminal gangs, previously dedicated to theft, decided to turn to extortion. According to police sources and aggrieved persons, the north of the country is plagued by these criminals. There they not only affect public transport, but also companies of different sectors and sizes, from important companies to small merchants. The modus operandi of the extortion it adapts to the profile of the victim, the main ones being the collection of quotas and the offer of ‘security’.

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In the case of Callao, the complaints of extortion have been duplicated. The head of the Divincri of the first port, Francisco Casafranca, indicated that in 2020 there were 37 cases, while in 2021 the figure reached 70. Likewise, so far this year there are already 12 complaints for the same crime.

He pointed out that the most recurrent modalities of this crime in Callao “are threats, exposure to privacy and collection of money” to neighbors, carriers, the civil construction sector and merchants.

In dialogue with Trade, PNP Commander (r) Mario Sánchez Vera explained that generally the information used by these gangs to extort money comes directly or indirectly from relatives or people close to the victim. “Information on economic capacity comes from the immediate environment“, said.

He specified that the leadership of these criminal organizations is in the prisons. “The leaders are 24 hours thinking how to make money abroad. They even divide the gang into two groups: those who go to talk with the victims and those who act violently when they do not agree to pay.“, said.

READ ALSO | Callao: crimes of extortion and collection of quotas doubled in 2021

the fear factor

Sánchez Vera explained that the main weapon of extortionists is fear. In this way, they ensure that the victim does not go to the police and prefers to pay. That is the mistake, because the fact should be reported and remain calm. “His intention is to cause panic through letters, messages, bullets and grenades. Once you pay, they already put you on the agenda and they will continue to ask you for money. When the extortor sees that you are not going to give him money, he usually looks for another victim.”, he explained.

In that sense, he added that in the last two years the pandemic has helped to increase the extortion. “These mafias take advantage of people’s psychological situation. With the pandemic they have had enough time to commit their crimes due to widespread fear in the population”, he asserted.

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