Bolivia Minister Says Porous Border Aids Crime Groups

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Bolivia’s interior minister acknowledged at a regional summit that many border crossings remain vulnerable to criminal activities, a reminder of the Andean nation’s role as a regional drug hub.

At a meeting of Southern Cone countries this week in the Brazilian capital Brasilia, Bolivia’s Interior Minister Carlos Romero identified 34 points along his country’s border as vulnerable to use for narcotics trafficking, reported Bolivian newspaper La Razon. (See La Razon’s map below)


Romero said that due to Bolivia’s strategic geographic location, the country “is exploited by transnational organized crime for the commission of crimes including trafficking of illicit drugs, arms trafficking, human smuggling and trafficking, and vehicle theft.”

The interior minister went on to point out that Bolivia is located in the center of the South American continent and has a border that stretches nearly 7,000 kilometers touching Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Paraguay, and Chile.

Romero also mentioned a previous agreement to create a tri-national police intelligence center among Bolivia, Brazil and Peru that would be headquartered in the Brazilian city of São Paulo with additional bases in Bolivia and Peru, La Razon reported in a separate article.

At the summit, which was attended by ministers from Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, the attendee nations also a released a statement saying that the countries of the Southern Cone have faced difficulty in integrating security policies, and that current policies and tools are insufficient to face increasingly integrated criminal networks, reported La Nacion.

InSight Crime Analysis

As Romero pointed out, Bolivia’s geography has contributed to its development as a key hub for drug trafficking in South America. The landlocked Andean nation is situated next to Brazil, the second biggest consumer of illegal drugs in the world. Bolivia also borders Peru, one of the world’s principal producers of cocaine, and Paraguay, South America’s primary producer of marijuana. Additionally, there are growing drug markets in neighboring Argentina as well as Chile.

Add all of this to Bolivia’s own domestic cocaine production and it becomes clear why Bolivia is increasingly at the center of the South American drug trade. The country’s extensive and relatively unmonitored borders represent lucrative opportunities for overland drug traffickers, and there is mounting evidence that aerial traffickers are also using the country as a transshipment point. 

SEE ALSO: Bolivia News and Profile

The promises of increased multilateral cooperation made during the summit are an encouraging sign that countries in the region intend to work together to combat the illegal drug trade. However, as the attendees’ statement acknowledged, previous pronouncements of bilateral cooperation and joint operations have generally fallen short of having a lasting impact on drug flows in the region. Substantial continuing efforts will likely be necessary to achieve that goal.

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