Peru police dressed up in holiday gear to make a drug arrest.
Peruvian police undercover agents, dressed in red, white and green outfits meant to resemble Santa Claus and an elf, arrived at a home in the Villa El Salvador district of Lima, broke in using a large hammer and took into custody a suspected drug dealer. Dressing up in an array of costume attire is apparently a common way to conduct raids in the country.
“We are the police, we are the green squad, this is an anti-drug operation,” one of the agents yelled in filmed footage of the incident. He brought the suspect to the ground and placed him in handcuffs.
“The arrested man had been videotaped selling drugs outside his home near a school,” a police spokesperson said. “The officers recovered hundreds of small bags that appeared to contain drugs, a revolver, and a balaclava,” (which is cloth headgear designed to expose only part of the face.)
“With the results we are seeing, a significant amount of drugs have been confiscated, both marijuana and basic cocaine paste,” said Colonel Fredy Velasquez, head of the Grupo Terna drugs squad. This isn’t the first time the team has used a Santa Claus suit to apprehend suspected drug dealers, either.
In 2016, Peru National Police Col. Jorge Angulo said of another operation involving the Claus, “We are able to imitate any type of character. This is a special character. We have had the opportunity to raid a home for the issue of drug sales.”
A police video released that year showed an officer dressed as Santa using a sledgehammer to break into and search a home, eventually leading multiple drug suspects out in handcuffs. The sting resulted in 4,564 packets of cocaine being confiscated.
Drug crime is a major issue in the country, and especially in Lima, sometimes resulting in deadly shootings committed in broad daylight. Peru has been known for years as one of the top cocaine producing countries in the world.
In 2020, more than 19 tons of drugs were seized between August and October only and have been destroyed at the National Police Special Operations Unit (Diroes) headquarters in Lima’s Ate district. The drugs burned included 9,132 kg of cocaine paste, 4,249 kg of cocaine hydrochloride, 5,710 kg of marijuana, 9 kg of opium, as well as 53 kg of amphetamine derivatives, such as ecstasy, and other synthetic drugs, according to police.
The head of Mininter’s Directorate General Against Organized Crime, Oscar Gonzales, was present at the event. He said, “With this act, which constitutes the final stage of the fight against illicit drug trafficking, the State and its authorities reaffirm their commitment to combating this scourge, which causes so much damage to the population, even in times of pandemic.”
Counterfeiting and forgery are also among the top crimes police are attempting to combat, and officers insist dressing up is part of what makes their efforts to intercede successful.
“The best gift we can give is a little security to the people,” Angulo said.