Peru Santa Cop Nabs ‘Grinch’ Drug Dealer in Pre-Christmas Op

A police officer from the traffic squad dressed as Santa Claus rides on a motorcycle through the streets of Lima, ahead of Christmas, in Lima, on Dec. 19.

LIMA (AFP-Jiji) — A Peruvian police squad used an agent dressed as Father Christmas to infiltrate an unsafe neighborhood outside Lima and bust a small drug ring, authorities said Saturday.

The undercover operation led to the arrest of two men selling forms of cocaine and marijuana in a house in Huaral, some 70 kilometers north of the Peruvian capital.

Agents “disguised themselves as Santa Claus to go unnoticed in this dangerous neighborhood,” Colonel Walter Palomino, head of the National Police Green Squadron, told reporters.

“The strategy was successful. Christmas came to the Evil Reindeer,” he said, using a seasonal nickname for the illicit gang.

An officer disguised as the white-bearded figure from the North Pole broke down a house door with a large sledgehammer and arrested one of the suspects.

Instead of offering jolly cheer, Santa and his helpers arrested two men and seized hundreds of packets of cocaine paste and marijuana, according to police, who have yet to announce a specific amount or value of the drugs.

One of those captured was presented to the press under an alias: “The Grinch,” after a fictional character created by US children’s author Dr. Seuss.

For years, police in the South American nation — one of the world’s biggest cocaine producers — have been using disguises during anti-drug operations launched on special dates.

On Oct. 31, police used the occasion of Halloween to dress up as horror characters and arrested two alleged members of the Balboa clan, a drug gang.

Last year before Christmas, police in Lima dressed as Santa and his elves conducted a similar operation, arresting four suspects and seizing 6,000 packets of cocaine paste.