• Connect with us on Linkedin

Bolivia Struggles Against Rising Tide of Crime

Bolivia's increasing cocaine production is fueling crime Bolivia's increasing cocaine production is fueling crime

The United States has criticized Bolivia's failure to cooperate fully on anti-narcotics efforts, while the country's second city, Santa Cruz, declared a state of emergency due to a rising crime wave.

Linkedin
Google +

In its recently-released 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, the US State Department said Bolivia had "failed demonstrably" for the fifth consecutive year in 2012 to meet obligations under international counternarcotics agreements, due to its inability to stem cocaine production and insufficient law enforcement efforts.

Although Bolivia's eradication program was exceeding its stated targets, "eradication and interdiction results were not sufficient to reverse increased potential cocaine production levels" resulting from a more efficient cocaine-making process, said the report. Meanwhile law enforcement's ability to "identify, investigate and dismantle drug trafficking organizations" remained weakened following the expulsion of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials in 2008.

In Santa Cruz, governor Ruben Costas declared "we are in an emergency," reported newspaper Los Tiempos, following a meeting to discuss the rising crime wave in the city. Various children have been kidnapped in recent months, with the suspected involvement of organized crime. Costas announced checkpoints would be installed in schools, while $14 million would be spent building six new police stations and adding 200 volunteers to the Civilian Police Support Group.

"We will not waver in our fight against organized crime, to banish foreign criminals from Bolivia who, in complicity with compatriots, are causing anxiety, especially in Santa Cruz," national police commander Alberto Aracena told news ageny ABI last month.

InSight Crime Analysis

Bolivia's anti-narcotics operations have been a highly politicized issue following the 2005 election of President Evo Morales, a leftist and former head of a coca growers union, and the expulsion of the DEA and US Ambassador Philip Goldberg in 2008, amid accusations of spying. An information war has been a major part of that, with consistently conflicting narratives on Bolivia's success or failures fighting drug trafficking. Bolivia has been on the US's blacklist of non-cooperative countries for five years, while the Bolivian government claims to have made great strides in seizures and eradication.

The issue of the presence of international criminal groups has also been a matter for debate. According to the US, there are Colombian, Brazilian, Peruvian and other foreign nationals producing and trafficking drugs in the country, as well as laundering money, but Bolivia denies the presence of international cartels  - though admits cartel "emissaries" are operating.

However there is increasing acknowledgement of the growing problem of drug trafficking by the Bolivian government, especially in Santa Cruz, which has emerged as a hot-spot for criminal activity. The government announced it would investigate links between corrupt officials and foreign criminal organizations in Santa Cruz last August, and a few months later announced it would create a permanent base in the city for the anti-narcotics police. This new investment in security is a further indication there are real grounds for concerns over international criminal activity, rather than the issue simply being fodder for US political posturing.

 

Linkedin
Google +

---

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We also encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, provided that it is attributed to InSight Crime in the byline, with a link to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

InSight Crime Search

The Complete Organized Crime Database on the Americas

InSight Crime Social

facebooktwittergooglelinkedin

InSight Crime Special Series

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

Los Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

After the capture of Zetas boss "Z40," Nuevo Laredo is bracing itself for the worst. This investigation breaks down what makes the city such an important trafficking corridor, and what it will take for the Zetas to maintain their grip on the city.

See entire series »

 

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill

Uruguay: Marijuana, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

Uruguay is poised to become the first country on the planet to regulate the production, sale, and distribution of the drug.

See entire series »

El Salvador's Gang Truce

El Salvador's Gang Truce

The truce between El Salvador's two largest gangs -- the MS-13 and the Barrio 18 -- opens up new possibilities in how to deal with

See entire series »

Juarez After The War

Juarez After The War

As a bitter war between rival cartels grinds to an end, Ciudad Juarez has lost the title of world murder capital, and is moving towards something more like normality.

See entire series »

The Zetas And The Battle For Monterrey

The Zetas and the Battle for Monterrey

InSight Crime delves into the Zetas' battle for Mexico’s industrial capital, Monterrey, getting to the essence of a criminal gang that defies easy definition.

See entire series »

Slavery in Latin America

Slavery in Latin America

InSight Crime coordinated an investigation into modern slavery, looking at how Latin America’s criminal groups traffic human beings and force them to work as slaves.

See entire series »

FARC, Peace and Criminalization

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is being dangled before Colombia. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, the enemies of the negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the process are high.

See entire series »

Displacement in Latin America

Displacement in Latin America

InSight Crime coordinated an investigation into the new face of displacement in Latin America, where organized criminal groups are expanding and forcing people to flee.

See entire series »

Target: Migrants

Target: Migrants

The growth of organized crime in Mexico and Central America has led to an increase in violence and insecurity across the region, posing challenges to citizens, public security forces, and travelers.

See entire series »

Zetas in Guatemala

The Zetas in Guatemala

Mexico's Zetas have taken Guatemala by storm, and they are testing this country and the rest of the region: fail this test, and Central America sinks deeper into the abyss.

See entire series »

Most Read

Mapping MS13, Barrio 18 Territory in Guatemala City

Mapping MS13, Barrio 18 Territory in Guatemala City

Officials in Guatemala have identified the areas of the capital controlled by the MS13 and Barrio 18 gangs, illustrating the degree of gang infiltration in the city with the third highest homicide rate in the...

Read more

Phone Calls Illustrate Power of Guatemalan Ex-Army Officer

Phone Calls Illustrate Power of Guatemalan Ex-Army Officer

As the trial begins of a Guatemalan ex-military officer accused of running a bribery ring from prison, where he is serving a sentence for a high-profile murder, phone recordings presented as evidence provide an inside...

Read more

Brazil's Red Command and the Police Who Fight Them

Brazil's Red Command and the Police Who Fight Them

In the Antares favela, a flat dusty slum in the far west of Rio de Janeiro, the control of the Red Command remains intact and blatant.

Read more

Latest Criminal Profile