An undercover police officer dressed as Santa Claus helped to arrest a pair of drug dealers in Lima, Peru, just a few days before Christmas, and a video of the unique drug bust has gone viral on social media.
The footage, which was released by the Peru National Police, showed the undercover officer in a Santa Claus costume knocking down the door of the drug dealers’ residence with a sledgehammer as members of his partners from a special unit known as the Green Squad are seen in the background climbing a ladder to the second floor to prevent any suspects from escaping.
The undercover Santa lost his bearded mask while he bashed down the heavily secured metal door, hitting it with the sledgehammer around five times before the officers were able to enter the home.
According to Squad Chief Walter Palomino, the residence where the drugs were being sold was difficult to access, so authorities came up with the idea of using the Santa disguise to get closer to the building.
Video released by police in Peru shows an undercover officer disguised as Santa Claus using a sledgehammer to break down a door and then helping to arrest a man suspected of selling drugs. https://t.co/WWPwoxpgWV pic.twitter.com/CSA598W9lD
— ABC News (@ABC) December 26, 2023
Police had been surveilling the suspects, 25-year-old Luis Córdoba and 32-year-old Jhordan Carhuachín, for suspicion of dealing cocaine and marijuana out of the home. Prior to the raid, the pair had sold drugs to undercover officers at least three times just in the last week.
Both Córdoba and Carhuachín had prior arrests for armed robbery.
During the bust, law enforcement discovered 600 packages containing cocaine paste — a crude extract of the coca leaf from which cocaine is derived — as well as 150 bags filled with marijuana and 30 bags of cocaine.
According to data from the United Nations (UN), Peru is one of the world’s largest producers of coca leaf and cocaine. A government report from June showed that land used to grow coca leaves in Peru had increased by 18% in 2022, with most of the cultivation taking place in protected lands and indigenous Amazon villages near Peru’s borders with Brazil and Colombia.
More traditional uses of coca leaves include being chewed for energy or to alleviate altitude sickness, and the plant is legal for those uses. However, at least 90% of coca leaves grown in Peru are used in the illicit drug trade, according to estimates from analysts and government officials.
This is far from the first time that police officers in Peru have used unique costumes during their efforts to arrest drug dealers. In one famous November 2022 raid that led to the arrests of four members of a Lima drug gang, police officers were seen wearing costumes of the superheroes Thor, Spiderman, and Captain America, according to The Daily Mail.
In Peru, the police dressed up as superheroes and raided a drug den. The operation, codenamed "Marvel", involved Spider-Man, Thor, Captain America, and Catwoman. They knocked on the door of the drug dealers and started telling them about the upcoming Halloween concert. pic.twitter.com/AsjQXJANzM
— Revolution Radio ⚪ (@Freedom_Slips) November 4, 2022