Bolivia: Narcotics Agents Destroy Clandestine Airstrip, Mega Cocaine Lab
By Eduardo Szklarz/Diálogo January 07, 2021
On October 30, Bolivia’s Special Force against Drug Trafficking (FELCN, in Spanish) seized 278 kilograms of cocaine base paste in two buildings in San Joaquín municipality, Beni department.
“Authorities found a clandestine airstrip and a light aircraft,” Edwin Lobatón, commander of the FELCN’s Mobile Rural Patrol Unit, said in statements published by the Bolivian newspaper La Prensa.
The seizure was made under Operation Hive (Operación Avispero). Agents found the base paste in 190 plastic molds and 45 brick-type packages. In addition, they seized a truck and 13 barrels with 780 liters of aircraft fuel.
Lobatón said that there were no detainees because this type of facility is usually guarded by several security rings to warn about the presence of police forces.
“Also, to enter the location, we had to pass through several ranches. That causes us to get noticed,” the police chief said in a press conference, the Bolivian news portal Informándote reported.
On October 26, during another operation, the FELCN destroyed a mega cocaine crystallization lab in the Isiboro Sécure National Park, a protected area also located in Beni.
“In compliance with the Dawn Operations Plan, the FELCN’s GIOE [Intelligence and Special Operations Group] patrols found an active cocaine crystallization mega lab,” the force reported in a statement. Agents found 195 kg of cocaine in that location.
“[The mega lab] had electricity, living areas, a dining room, diluted and filtered [substances], drying and pressing [equipment], distilled [substances], tanks, various tools and plumbing [elements], showers and bathrooms, as well as security perimeters and several surveillance points,” the website Periódico Bolivia reported.
From November 13, 2019, to September 30, 2020, agents seized 451.2 tons of drug, including 12.8 tons of cocaine and 438.4 tons of marijuana.
In addition, they seized 500 vehicles, 20 light aircraft, and 122 properties, the FELCN reported.