Peru and Bolivia committed to join and strengthen their efforts to combat narcotrafficking during the IX Meeting of the Bolivian-Peruvian Joint Commission held in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, in late September.
Exchanging information on illegal narco aircraft that fly over the airspace on the border between both nations and exchanging experiences on methods used for monitoring and reducing coca crops were among the agreements, state-run Bolivian Information Agency (ABI), reported on October 1.
“Peru, Bolivia, and the other countries of the Andean region have been dealing with a global demand for cocaine that has been growing steadily in recent years,” Ricardo Soberón, executive president of Peru’s National Commission for Development and Life without Drugs (Devida), told Diálogo on October 24.
“The demand for the drug comes especially from the European and North American markets,” Soberón added. “This fact generates conditions for the installation of criminal networks in the South American region, which seek to accelerate the supply of basic paste and cocaine.”
Bolivian Vice Minister of Social Defense and Controlled Substances Jaime Mamani Espíndola told the press that both countries agreed to a total of 35 joint actions, including coordinated and simultaneous operations on the common border to stop transnational gangs that carry out these criminal operations.
Soberón added that Peru is implementing a sustainable crop control strategy, which involves a citizen social pact with coca leaf producers. “This social pact consists of having a permanent dialogue process between the State and the population, with the objective of reducing coca cultivation for illicit purposes and contributing to integral sustainable development in the Andean-Amazon region,” he said.
“We include relevant data on criminal organizations, routes, modus operandi, new trends, types of drugs being trafficked, checkpoints, intelligence related to illicit drug trafficking in the Bolivia-Peru air bridge modality,” Mamani added.
According to Mamani, at the Financial Investigation Units level, they will continue to exchange information and will carry out cross-border currency control exercises through the 2022-2023 operational plan of alternative, integral, and sustainable development cooperation with consumption prevention, rehabilitation, control of illicit drug trafficking and related crimes.
“From there, we were able to strengthen bilateral coordination with bordering countries such as Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Chile, through joint commission,” Mamani told ABI.
He added that the monitoring of coca crops and the reduction of surplus crops will be done via satellite images. Likewise, both nations will seek to consolidate the Regional Anti-Narcotics Intelligence Center (Cerian), headquartered in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to redouble efforts in the fight against narcotrafficking on their common border.
The purpose of Cerian is to coordinate actions against illicit drug trafficking with law enforcement and drug control agencies of five neighboring countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Peru.
In October 2022, the Special Project for the Control and Reduction of Illegal Coca Crops in Alto Huallaga, of the Peruvian Ministry of the Interior, reported the eradication, so far this year, of more than 20,000 hectares of illicit crops used for narcotrafficking.
Meanwhile, in Bolivia, authorities anticipate that some 10,000 hectares will be eradicated, Bolivian Minister of Government Eduardo del Castillo told the press. According to Peruvian newspaper La Razón, about 9,500 hectares of coca leaf were destroyed in Bolivia in 2021.
“This situation deserves that the States face it in a concerted manner,” Peruvian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ana Gervasi said in a statement.
Gervasi stressed the importance of providing attention to farmers in coca-growing areas through better programs related to integral and sustainable alternative development, in order to diversify their production, capture new markets, and ensure the welfare of their families and communities.
The alliance between Bolivia and Peru will help build trust and reverse the critical scenario in the fight against drugs in the border area, as well as neutralize aerial routes criminals from both countries use, Gervasi added.
On October 11, Peru and Bolivia presented the results of the Inti Raymi Binational Operations Plan, carried out August 1-September 15, which aimed to control, detect, and curb all illicit drug trafficking activities in the 1,047 kilometers of border between both countries.
“Our first actions have allowed the seizure of more than 2 tons of drugs, as well as the destruction of four cocaine hydrochloride processing laboratories y 16 cocaine base paste laboratories,” Del Castillo said.