Bolivia Interior Minister Carlos Romero

Bolivia, Peru and Brazil declared that they will create a joint fund using money seized from criminal groups to help in their fight against organized crime in the region, highlighting how this often untapped source of revenue can be utilized.

Bolivia’s interior minister, Carlos Romero, announced on November 15 that his government had agreed with Peru and Brazil to create a shared fund to fight organized crime, reported La Razon.

The fund -- which, according to Romero, will be used to purchase technology used in the fight against crime and to pay informants -- will be financed primarily using money and assets seized from criminals. Both Peru and Brazil already have laws in place permitting the use of criminal assets by the state. Bolivia has yet to pass its own version of the law.

Romero added that the three governments had agreed on a set of protocols to shoot down suspected drug trafficking planes, and that Peru will set up two radars along its border to help track drug flights.

The announcements came during a tri-governmental meeting in the Peruvian capital, Lima.

InSight Crime Analysis

Goods seized from criminal gangs have the potential to provide governments in the region with a valuable source of funding in the fight against organized crime. Nicaragua, for example, announced last month that the government would build five new prisons, using a portion of the $9.2 million seized from a group of alleged cash smugglers currently on trial. But other countries have faced difficulties in redistributing criminal assets quickly and efficiently: in Honduras, one law meant to allow the government to use seized drug money has proved largely toothless, thanks to bureaucratic red tape. 

It is also noteworthy that Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru are all discussing implementing shoot-down protocols for suspected drug flights. Traffickers moving drugs by plane have made great use of routes through Brazil and Bolivia, as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) highlighted last year. In response to the problem, Bolivia has conducted joint exercises with the Brazilian Air Force and drafted a law last month that will enable Bolivia to shoot down suspected drug flights