Bolivia in the Fight Against Drugs

Bolivia in the Fight Against Drugs

By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo
October 05, 2020

The Bolivian Special Force to Fight Drug Trafficking (FELCN, in Spanish) reported seizing more than 2.3 tons of cocaine in different operations carried out in the last two weeks of July.

On July 29, the FELCN reported the seizure of 260 kilograms of cocaine and a light aircraft, the destruction of a clandestine airstrip, and the arrest of three people in two operations in Beni and Cochabamba departments. Between July 21 and 24, service members reported the seizure of 387 kg of cocaine and the arrest of eight individuals during four operations on the roads of La Paz, Beni, and Santa Cruz departments. On July 19, in the province of Iténez, the FELCN seized one light aircraft and 1 ton of cocaine that was bound for Brazil, Bolivian TV station UNITEL reported. In four other operations on July 14, the FELCN reported the seizure of 412 kg of cocaine.

Narcotics police agents obtained “phenomenal results” on July 13, seizing 247 kg of drugs in the Amazon, north of La Paz. Bolivian Police Colonel Juan Percy Frías, FELCN general director, told Diálogo on August 4 that the area was “definitely being used as a shipping point for aircraft coming from Peru.”

Ninety-five percent of “narco-flights” departing from Peru enter Bolivian territory; each flight carries an average of 300 to 500 kg of cocaine to neighboring countries, which is later shipped to consumer markets overseas, the Elcano Royal Institute for International and Strategic Studies in Spain reported online. “There are many airports in the Amazon that narcotrafficking networks use for refueling, as well as clandestine airstrips to get to Brazil,” Col. Frías added.

The special force receives support from the Red Devils elite troop, a Bolivian Air Force unit that moves narcotics police troops to hard-to-reach areas by helicopters. Col. Frías emphasized that, thanks to this unit, they can stay continuously active to conduct operations in the jungle and clandestine airstrips.