LIMA, Peru - A gang of drug dealers in Peru got a nasty surprise when Santa and a merry band of elves broke down their door, cuffed them and seized their merchandise in an unusual bust announced Monday.
Agents disguised as the ruddy, white-bearded figure from the North Pole and several of his helpers, entered an unsafe neighborhood of Lima called Surquillo on Saturday, police official David Villanueva told Peruvian TV.
"It being Christmas, a Santa in the street does not attract much attention, and we used this to our advantage for this operation," said Villanueva.
The group ambled innocently down a street until suddenly they stopped at a house.
One of Santa's helpers brought out an enormous hammer, broke down the front door and the group forced their way inside.
Instead of greeting the occupants with a jolly cheer, agents screamed at them to freeze and lay down on the floor.
The suspects, three men and a woman, initially thought it was a joke, said Villanueva.
The bust was called "The fall of the Chicago Grinch" after the fictional green monster that stole Christmas and Surquillo's nickname of "Little Chicago" in an allusion to the violent gangs that ran the American city in the 1920s.
The agents seized 6,000 small packets of cocaine paste, 104 of cocaine powder and 279 of marijuana, said police.
One kilogram of cocaine paste sells for about $380 in Peru and a kilo of powder, the purest form, for about $1,000.
Peru is one of the world's biggest cocaine producers, alongside Colombia and Bolivia.
© Agence France-Presse