Bolivian campaign against human trafficking

In 2013, the number of human trafficking cases reported in Bolivia was more than 10 times higher than nine years ago, raising questions as to whether this represents a growth in criminal activity or an increase in the reporting of the crime.

Statistics by the Bolivian police show that in 2005 only 35 trafficking cases were reported in the country, while in 2013 this had shot up to 363, reported La Razon. Nonetheless, this number was down by around 20 percent from 2012, in which 456 cases were opened.

According to La Razon, a grave concern for the Bolivian government is that there have still not been any prosecutions for trafficking cases.

The director general of the human trafficking division of the Bolivian Interior Ministry, Freddy Cayo, attributed the growing trend to citizens shedding their fear of reporting such cases, rather than a rapid upsurge in the crime.

Cayo also told La Razon that before the 2012 Law Against Human Trafficking incorporated the illegal practice into Bolivia's Criminal Code, trafficking was recorded as a "violation of rights, kidnapping or disappearance." Now, depending on the type of crime, traffickers can now get prison sentences from five to 15 years.

The majority of victims are between the ages of 12 and 24, and are trafficked to Spain, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. Most men are used in forced labor, while women are sexually exploited, according to La Razon.

InSight Crime Analysis

Bolivia is a source and transit country for both domestic and international human trafficking. A large amount of victims are foreigners passing through the country, while other Bolivian nationals are trafficked to Spain, the United States and nearby countries such Brazil, Chile, Peru and Argentina.

The country's trafficking rate per 100,000 citizens reached 3.1 in 2009 -- far above the other regional figures reported by the United Nations Development Program (pdf).

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Human Trafficking

However, what is unclear is whether the rise in recent years is as a result of changes to the legal code and measures to promote awareness such as public service announcements and police-run school programs, or whether it is a sign of criminal groups increasing trafficking activities.

Although La Razon specifies that no trafficking cases have led to prosecutions so far, the US State Department's most recent Trafficking in Persons Report (pdf) states that four sex traffickers and one labor trafficker were convicted in 2012, with nine other offenders convicted in 2011.

Nonetheless, these figures remain low given the abundance of cases, demonstrating how Bolivia lacks effective enforcement and prosecution to deal with these networks. According to Cayo, "Of the 255 cases [30 percent of all cases] in La Paz alone, many aren't even advancing."

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...