Bolivian anti-drug forces confiscated 20.6 tons of cocaine, 83 tons of marijuana and destroyed 11,025 hectares of illegal coca crops during 2015, official sources report.
Santiago Delgadillo, head of the Special Force Against Drug Trafficking (FELCN), said that the seizures were made possible thanks to a total of 11,501 police operations – equaling 32 operations per day.
“The affect this has on drug trafficking is about $45 million… with these operations we are dealing a heavy blow to criminal organizations,” Delgadillo said.
He also reported the destruction of more than 72 drug labs.
Gonzalo Rodriguez, Director of the Strategic Operational Command, added that through its operating units, the FELCN implemented 1,700 tactical missions with the collaboration of 24 action groups spread over areas in the departments of La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz and Beni, in addition to within Bolivia’s national parks.
“These operations allowed us to complete transactions with the necessary success. There is no doubt that the mission was completed successfully,” he added.
“We managed to responsibly deal with a problem of not only national but international character, that is drug trafficking,” said President Evo Morales, during a presentation of the results of coca plant eradication in the village of Chimoré, Cochabamba department.
“Over the past years we have shown that without the assistance of international bodies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), of the U.S., Bolivia is a model in the fight against drug trafficking,” added President Morales.
Since January 2006, when Morales took office, until November 2015, 129,007 hectares of illegal crops of coca, the raw material used to process cocaine, were eradicated, according to a report by the Deputy Minister of Defense.
Around 5,070 hectares were eradicated in 2006, while in 2015 this total reached 10,633.Some 3,082 people were arrested this year for alleged ties to drug trafficking, of which almost 200 were foreign nationals.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Bolivia (UNODC) recognized the Government for its efforts to eradicate coca cultivation in recent years.Their representative in the country, Antonino De Leo, said that a major factor that enabled this rationalization is dialogue and consensus with social organizations and local authorities in the tasks of reducing surplus coca crops.
In Bolivia, the coca leaf is protected by the Constitution promulgated by president Morales in 2009 for its cultural, religious and medicinal uses.
In his speech, the president said that his country shows with real data that it can confront drug trafficking with results.
Bolivia, along with Peru and Colombia, make up the group of three Andean countries where coca planting – an ancestral vegetable in indigenous culture – soared for use in the production of cocaine over the past four decades, sold mainly in the U.S. and European markets.