During the Tenth Ordinary Meeting of the Binational Border Commission (Combifron) Peru-Bolivia carried out in the Bolivian city of la Paz, in late 2022, authorities coordinated actions against security threats such as the fight against drug, arms, and human trafficking; organized crime; smuggling; contraband; and illegal mining.
The Combifron is a mutual trust-building mechanism that allows for the exchange of intelligence information to optimize operations against all threats and risk factors between both countries.
General Eduardo Pérez Rocha, former director general of the Peruvian Police, who spoke with Diálogo on December 14, said that narcotrafficking is perhaps the main problem on the border area, since there is not only entry by land but also by air via small planes that evade security controls.
During the Combifron, on November 24, Bolivian Navy Admiral José Manuel Puente, vice-minister of Defense and Cooperation for Integral Development and president of Combifron–Bolivia, said that during this meeting five agreements and 22 understandings were reached that “will be fulfilled during this new administration [in 2023] on the border between Bolivia and Peru, where an estimated $200 million are moved annually and some 50,000 people cross from both sides.”
That same day, Army Brigadier General Rubén Castañeda, head of the Intelligence Division of the Peruvian Armed Forces’ Joint Chiefs of Staff and president of Combifron–Peru, highlighted the joint work to meet the objectives of both countries.
“We want to consolidate the security and development that our most vulnerable populations that live exposed to transnational and multidimensional crimes and threats in our common border require,” said Gen. Castañeda, stressing the importance of information exchange between military and police to face such crimes.
According to Gen. Pérez Rocha, Bolivia is a corridor for Peruvian drugs on route for other countries such as Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil, this latest being the main cocaine consumer in the region.
The Peruvian police reported that during 2022 it destroyed more than 64 clandestine airstrips, which narcotraffickers used to transport large shipments of illicit substances, some of them bound for Bolivia.
According to France 24 news network, small Cessna-type aircraft using Bolivian tail numbers land on clandestine airstrips that narcotraffickers set up in the Peruvian jungle to load and transport cocaine bound for Bolivia and Brazil. On each trip these small aircraft can take up to 250 kilograms of drugs.
“These types of agreements are of great importance to reduce security threats,” Gen. Pérez Rocha said. “Peru also has a special focus on the illicit trafficking of firearms, ammunition, and explosives, which are directly linked to transnational organized crime, drug trafficking, terrorism, contract killing, and smuggling, among other threats.”
According to InSight Crime, an organization that studies organized crime in Latin America and the Caribbean, price differences keep Peru’s coca flowing illegally into Bolivia through at least 10 trafficking routes. In the report, Dario Manrique, head of the Coca Leaf and Industrialization General Directorate (Digcoin), a Bolivian institution that monitors suspicious routes to prevent coca from entering the country, said that some 50 kg of Peruvian coca sells for some $170, while the Bolivian equivalent can reach $350.
“In coordination between Digcoin and the Vice Ministry of Social Defense and Controlled Substances, controls are carried out on the country’s main highways, but also at the border points,” Manrique said.
The Binational Border Commission’s schedule of meetings for 2023 has yet to be set, but Peru and Bolivia agreed not to lower their guard and continue working together to combat the scourges that affect both sides of their borders.