LIMA -- Mexican and Colombian drug traffickers operating here may be engaged in an all-out war for control of the narcotics trade in the Peruvian capital, the press reported Tuesday.
La Republica daily reported that three suspected members of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel on Monday shot at two Colombian drug traffickers at a residence in the Callao port, north of Lima, after the latter apparently tried to sell them 350 kilos of fake cocaine.
The paper added that the three Mexicans discovered that the illicit shipment was mixed with flour, as police later confirmed when they arrived at the building - rented by the Colombians in Callao - that was the site of the gun battle.
Both the Mexicans and Colombians accused of involvement in the shootout, some of whom suffered gunshot wounds, fled the scene and remain at large.
Police officials cited by La Republica said the same group of Mexicans on Sunday killed another Colombian apparently linked to the consignment of fake cocaine in the Lima neighborhood of Chorrillos.
They said they were not ruling out the possibility that a war was being waged for control of the illegal drug trade in Lima, the daily reported.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Sinaloa cartel controls more than 80 percent of the drugs processed in one of Peru's main cocaine-producing regions.
La Republica reported that Mexican cartels hired Colombians to supply them with drugs until the end of 2007, but that those ties were severed last year.
A total of 21 Mexicans and 17 Colombians were arrested in possession of 32 of the 40 tons of drugs the police confiscated nationwide last year, the daily added.
According to the United Nations, Peru is the world's second-leading producer of cocaine and coca leaf, the raw material for the drug, trailing only Colombia.
President Alan Garcia and drug czar Romulo Pizarro on several occasions have warned about the presence of Mexican cartels in Peruvian territory, a cause of concern because of their reputation for ruthlessness. EFE