Peruvian police have arrested the senior leader of the Shining Path rebel group, Jimmy Rodriguez, charging him with organizing anti-government protests against a coca eradication plan in the central province of Huanuco, the country's Interior Ministry said Wednesday.
According to a statement released by the Interior Ministry, Rodriguez, who is wanted for four murders, was arrested last Friday in a house in Tingo Maria, a city 500 km southeast of the capital Lima, and is being held by the Police's Anti-Terror Directorate.
The police also arrested Humberto Chavez Sanchez, who had planned to meet Rodriguez in the house.
Rodriguez and 14 others were linked to the murder of a central government official who was leading coca leaf destruction.
The statement said Rodriguez is the right-hand man of the man known by the alias Artemio, who claims to be the top leader of Shining Path outside prison and has allies with drug traffickers.
According to reports in local daily El Comercio, Rodriguez was arrested with documents relating to the Shining Path's plans to build trenches and barricade roads.The police also found three pistols, Shining Path propaganda and a map of the blocked highways.
The newspaper said that Rodriguez had admitted killing opponents of this plans "without pity."
The protest in Huanuco is in its third day and protesters have threatened to take stronger measures if the government does not halt coca eradication plans. Peru is the world's second-largest producer of cocaine.