DEA reports Mexican drug cartels operating in Bolivia

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 10.14.04 AMToday, December 8, 2011, El Deber reports about an October 19, 2011 DEA report that mentioned Bolivia being occupied by Mexican drug cartels; in reply to current Bolivian government officials denying such presence. this the link for the original Spanish article:

http://www.eldeber.com.bo/2011/2011-12-08/vernotainternacional.php?id=111207225801

I looked at the DEA official set and found the document, I hereby transcribe the whole section regarding Bolivia and its link for the full report can be found below:

STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD OF RODNEY G. BENSON ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR CHIEF OF INTELLIGENCE

DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION

BEFORE THE SENATE CAUCUS ON INTERNATIONAL DRUG CONTROL ENTITLED

“U.S. – ANDEAN SECURITY COOPERATION”

Bolivia is the world’s third largest producer of cocaine – behind Colombia and Peru – and also a significant transit zone for Peruvian-origin cocaine. The Bolivian government’s decision to expel DEA in January 2009 limits our ability to reliably assess the current drug trafficking situation in Bolivia. However, reports obtained from neighboring countries have revealed a number of alarming trends, including an increase in Bolivian cocaine production and Colombian-style manufacturing methods, and the increased presence of Colombian and Mexican drug traffickers operating throughout the country.

For the last three years, the government of Bolivia has failed demonstrably to make sufficient efforts to meet its obligations under counternarcotics conventions. Although coca cultivation and cocaine production remained stable in 2010, these metrics have expanded significantly during the administration of President Evo Morales. Coca cultivation increased over 35% from 2006 to 2010, fromapproximately 26,000 hectares to 35,000 hectares under cultivation, and potential pure cocaine production increased 70% during this period, from 115 metric tons to 195 metric tons. These figures are the highest in over a decade andare attributed to a number of factors. First, the Government of Bolivia permitsthe cultivation of limited amounts of coca for traditional cultural activities, such as coca tea or coca leaf chewing. Bolivian coca growers are currently authorized to grow 12,000 hectares of coca per year for “personal consumption,” however, a new law expected to pass later this year wouldpermit an additional 8,000 hectares – bringing the total to 20,000 legal hectares. The government makes limited efforts tomonitor and control legal coca cultivation, and farmers often grow coca in excess of the accepted amounts and cropsare diverted to illicit purposes.

Bolivian President Evo Morales is also president of the coca growers’ federation in the Chapare region of Bolivia, one of the two major coca-growing areas, and has repeatedly expressed his support for farmers’ rights to legally grow and use coca. In 2010 and 2011, the Government of Bolivia unsuccessfully attempted to amend the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs by removing references to coca leaf chewing, and remained committed to passing legislation raising the legal number of hectares of coca cultivation. The political climate regarding coca cultivation is thus unlikely to change in the near future. Second, since about 2007, DEA has noted a rise in Colombian-style cocaine processing methods and the increasing presence of Colombian and Mexican drug traffickers operating in Bolivia. The type of cocaine processing laboratories and chemicals seized in Bolivia suggest an increase in the so-called “Colombian” method of cocaine production over traditional maceration pits. This method is much more efficient in extracting cocaine from coca leaves and results in greater amounts of finished cocaine. Finally, Bolivia’s ability to successfully identify, investigate, and dismantle DTOs [Drug Trafficking Organization] has been significantly diminished following the expulsion of DEA. Bolivia has failed to reduce net coca cultivation and cocaine production, and has not curtailed the growing drug threat. Indeed, over the last few years, Bolivia has experienced a marked rise in drug-related violence, and countries bordering Bolivia have noted increased drug trafficking from Bolivia. Brazil, in particular, has seen a dramatic increase in Bolivian drug seizures and arrests. Lacking a presence in the country, it is difficult for DEA to identify major DTOs operating in Bolivia. However, some reporting indicates there are a number of Colombian and Mexican DTOs operating in Bolivia, and evidence suggests that at least some government officials may be complicit in the drug trade. For example, Rene Sanabria-Oropeza recently pled guilty to drug trafficking charges stemming from his attempt to import over 100 kilograms of cocaine into the U.S. At the time of his arrest in February 2011, Sanabria-Oropeza was the Director of CIGIEN, a Bolivian Counter- Narcotics Intelligence unit within the Ministry of Government. Sanabria-Oropeza is also a retired General and former head of the Bolivian National Police anti-narcotics unit, known as FELCN. The arrest and conviction of Sanabria-Oropeza illustrates the corrupting influence of cocaine production and trafficking. As coca cultivation and cocaine production increase, potential for corruption at all levels also increases. Reports indicate that most cocaine of Bolivian origin flows to other South American countries, especially Brazil, for domestic consumption or onward transit towards Europe, with little exported to the U.S. Cocaine produced in Bolivia is typically transported to Europe and Africa via maritime vessels or noncommercial aircraft, or is consumed within South America. Brazil is one of the chief recipients of Bolivian cocaine and is currently the second largest cocaine consumer in the world, exceeded only by the U.S. Cocaine produced in Bolivia also transits Argentina, Brazil, and Chile en route to lucrative drug markets in Europe Asia, and Australia. http://www.justice.gov/dea/speeches/111019_testimony.pdf
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