LIMA, Peru – A leaked U.S. diplomatic message reporting speculation that the new head of Peru’s military was involved in drug corruption has shaken the nation’s armed forces, with the general angrily denying any drug ties on Monday and saying he may take legal action against the former U.S. ambassador.
The March 2009 document from then-Ambassador Michael McKinley noted that a source “saw signs that officers may have continued to cooperate with drug traffickers.” It was released Sunday by WikiLeaks.
The document cited a 2007 meeting between Gen. Paul da Silva and a regional fishing industry leader, Rolando Eugenio Velasco Heysen, and said the source suggested they were coordinating drug shipments. Velasco was arrested in October 2007 on charges of trying to export nearly 2,000 pounds of cocaine hidden in frozen fish and remains imprisoned facing trial.
Da Silva, then chief of the Piura military region, was named head of Peru’s army earlier this month.
Da Silva held a news conference at army headquarters Monday to deny the suggestion, saying that while he did meet with Velasco, they talked about the fishing industry executive’s offer to supply the military with seafood.