Bolivia, Peru Cooperate to Fight Drug Trafficking

By Dialogo
July 22, 2015


Bolivian and Peruvian security forces have teamed this year to destroy 50 clandestine landing strips and 17 planes used by drug traffickers. The cooperative effort joins Peru's Drug Enforcement Directorate (DIRANDRO) with Bolivia’s Special Force in the War on Drugs (FELCN), each force operating in its own respective territory.

The alliance between the two countries “will allow us to achieve better results and will make our war on drugs that much more effective, by conducting coordinated and simultaneous operations to confront illegal traffic in drugs and related offenses,” a spokesman for Bolivian Vice Minister of Social Defense Felipe Cáceres said.

“In this struggle, we neutralized the air bridge established by drug traffickers to transport cocaine coming from the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM) in Peru, and employing Bolivia as a transshipment point,” Cáceres said, according to La Razón.

There, Bolivian security forces seized 53 tons of marijuana, 7.4 tons of cocaine hydrochloride, and 6.5 tons of cocaine base between January 1 and June 30 of this year, according to FELCN’s General Directorate. Additionally, they dismantled 1,581 cocaine laboratories in the Bolivian rainforest and arrested 1,823 suspects from several countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Spain.

Meanwhile, in the VRAEM, Peru’s Armed Forces have confronted drug-trafficking organizations -- including the terrorist group Shining Path -- for nearly 20 years. The region is a major production point for illegal coca, a crop used to produce cocaine. Peruvian security forces have made strides in the fight against cocaine production in recent years, as the nation produced 42,900 hectares of coca leaves in 2014, a nearly 13 percent decrease from 2013, when 49,200 hectares of coca leaves were harvested.

“Due to the interdictions in many planes in the VRAEM and to avoid prosecution, drug traffickers are travelling to Callao in Bolivia and Loreto in Peru,” said Jaime Antezana, a Peruvian security analyst.

Bolstering cooperation

“The Armed Forces of both countries will combine their efforts in the fight against drug trafficking, smuggling and human trafficking,” he said, adding that Bolivia and Peru have reached “an important milestone” in their relationship.

That milestone arrived at the summit of councils of ministers held in Peru’s Puno region on June 23. There, Bolivian Minister of Defense Reymi Ferreira said after the 1st Bilateral Ministers’ Cabinet, the two countries agreed to “bilateral civic action, through the participation of both Armed Forces in social actions, both in the Lake Titicaca zone as well as the Amazon region, where we have a shared border.”

In addition to joint training efforts, Bolivia and Peru’s operational strategy includes cooperation on:

* Exchanges of information on methods for analyzing drugs that are used illegally or improperly;

* Exchanges of information on chemical substances used to adulterate drugs;

* Internships at FELCN’s forensic laboratories, and exchanges on drug analysis;

* Identification of synthetic drugs and controlled chemical substances; and

* Analyses of high-resolution liquid chromatography and gas chromatography.

Positive development

Both countries also have ongoing cooperative agreements with other partner nations in the fight against transnational criminal organizations.

Since 2011, for example, Bolivian and Brazilian security forces have exchanged information and participated in joint training exercises.

“We are seeing a great opening in Bolivia’s international relations,” Theo Roncken, coordinator and associate investigator of the Bolivian civil organization Acción Andina, said. “This is positive for the country and the region.”

In 2013, Bolivia, Peru and Brazil signed a trilateral agreement establishing control over air, ground, lake and river spaces along the countries’ extensive shared borders, allowing the nations to exchange intelligence, financial information, training, experiences, eradication and reducing the demand for drugs with a comprehensive vision. And in August 2014, Peru’s Ministry of Defense and the United States’ Pacific Forces renewed the relationship between their Navies on security and defense to strengthen their fight on the war on drugs.