A study has found that some 70 percent of the 2,600 foreign nationals arrested in Chile last year were accused of drug trafficking, drawing attention to the country’s use as a smuggling route.
According to the study carried out by NGO Activa, the vast majority of those arrested were men, and more than half were from Bolivia, with about a third being from Peru, and less than 10 percent from Argentina. The arrests were concentrated in the northern region of Tarapaca and Arica, which borders on Peru and Bolivia, and Parinacota, which borders Bolivia, as well as in the Metropolitana region which contains Santiago.
The study’s authors recommended that Chile’s government impose tighter measures against drug trafficking.
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Efforts to strengthen border security are already underway. In October, the Piñera administration announced its Northern Border Plan to stop drugs entering the country, and the purchase of several drones to monitor activity on the border areas. The plan includes joint efforts with Chilean and Bolivian police.
Chile’s large consumer market, proximity to cocaine-producing nations Bolivia and Peru, and production of chemicals used in cocaine manufacture make it a target for traffickers. According to the Chilean Interior Minister, over 140 land trafficking routes into the country have been identified, and most of the cocaine moving through the country goes to Europe.