Cablegate: Bolivia Cn Update January 2010
DE RUEHLP #0294/01 0432210
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 122209Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0677
INFO RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/NATIONAL DRUG INTELLIGENCE CENTER JOHNSTOWN PA
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUMIESS/SOUTHCOM IESS MIAMI FL
UNCLAS LA PAZ 000294
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR BL KJUS PHUM
SUBJECT: Bolivia CN Update January 2010
REF: 10 LA PAZ 90
* Interdiction: Seizures in all categories except solid
precursors and cocaine HCl labs declined compared to January 2008.
* Eradication: The GOB did not undertake eradication
operations during the month. (para 8).
* Development and Training: NAS Director attended a
graduation ceremony NAS-funded 10-day jungle operations orientation
course for Bolivian CN Prosecutors and Assistants. The Directors
of the Bolivian National Police (BNP) and Special Forces for the
Fight Against Narcotics Trafficking (FELCN), together with the Vice
Minister of Social Defense, assigned four BNP officers to lead the
GOB's new CN polygraph unit. (paras 9-11).
* Trafficking in Persons: NAS and the BNP designated 30
BNP investigators to work in TIP's offices that will be opened in
the coming months in six Bolivian border towns. (para 12).
* Prevention and Demand Reduction: The BNP's nine D.A.R.E.
provincial coordinators participated in a leadership and management
seminar in La Paz. (para 13).
* Aviation: NAS Helicopter and Small Wing Program (Red
Devils) continued to urge the GOB to dedicate additional personnel
to the unit. (para 14).
2. January 2009 vs. January 2008: Seizures were generally
down compared to the same period last year. CN police performed 9
percent fewer operations (903), during which they seized: 71
percent less cocaine HCL (.09 MT); 57 percent less cocaine base
(1.10 MT); 76 percent less coca leaf (51.03 MT); 61 percent less
marijuana (.09 MT); 16 percent less liquid precursors (136,966
liters); destroyed 61 percent fewer cocaine base labs (556); and 27
percent fewer maceration pits (556). CN units seized five percent
more solid precursors (46.36 MT) and arrested 27 percent more
suspects (294). CN units seized one cocaine HCl laboratory vs.
none in January 2008. All statistics come from FELCN.
3. In the first discovery of a "mega-lab" in 2010, on January
10 FELCN Santa Cruz discovered a cocaine HCl laboratory in full
operation in the municipality of Cotoca, 10 kilometers from the
city of Santa Cruz. CN forces arrested two people and seized
dozens of bricks containing 6 kilograms of cocaine in one of the
rustic buildings of the complex, and large amounts of chemicals in
another building. FELCN reported that the mega-lab had the
capacity to manufacture 50 kilograms of cocaine HCl per day.
4. FELCN Cochabamba on January 11 discovered a cocaine
crystallization lab in Cala Trancani. The lab was converting
cocaine base into cocaine HCl, and packaging approximately 10
kilograms of cocaine daily. Cocaine base sells for $1,300 per kilo
on the Bolivian market, while cocaine HCl sells for approximately
$2,300 per kilo. CN units arrested one person during the raid.
5. FELCN Cochabamba seized 96 kilograms of cocaine base during
10 operations conducted between January 21-25 in the Valle area of
Cochabamba. The CN units also arrested nine people and seized four
vehicles. In a January 21 operation, CN forces seized 36.7
kilograms hidden inside a bus. Three days later, units seized
36.95 kilograms of cocaine also hidden inside an interprovincial
bus in the community of Quellumayu.
6. On January 26, FELCN Santa Cruz incinerated a cocaine
factory located in Vaca Guzman, some 75 kilometers from the city of
Santa Cruz. FELCN Santa Cruz director Jorge Romero said the
factory was producing between 40 and 50 kilograms of cocaine base
per week using Colombian technology, and noted that as recently as
Friday, January 22, traffickers transported 50 kilograms from the
factory. CN units also seized at the site: 350 liters of liquid
precursors, 200 liters of gasoline (to be used in the cocaine
production process); 8 barrels of chemical precursors, and a
plethora of tools used on the manufacturing process.
7. FELCN's Controlled Substances Prosecutor's Office searched
January 28 a Santa Cruz house owned by the Mayor of San Matias,
Hubre Velarde. The remote town on the Brazilian border is a
significant drug transit point for cocaine being shipped or flown
to Brazil. The authorities, who had obtained a search warrant
based on credible evidence that Velarde was involved in money
laundering and drug trafficking, seized 105,000 Bolivianos (USD
$14,800). In his statement to the prosecutor, Velarde declared
that the moneys seized were proceeds from his cattle business and
interest on a loan he had made.
8. The GOB did not undertake eradication operations. As in
past years, it will begin in February.
Training and Institutional Development
9. Forty-six CN prosecutors and assistants participated in a
10-day orientation course at the NAS-funded Garras school in
Chimore, covering counternarcotics operations, land navigation,
escape and evasion, basic first aid and jungle survival training.
The course allowed the GOB prosecutors an opportunity to experience
the type of working conditions that Bolivian CN forces must
routinely endure, and helped give the prosecutors a sense of what
to expect when they accompany CN forces on operations. On January
30, twenty-two members of the Bolivian coca eradication police
(ECOPOL) completed a three-week Jungle Tactical Operation training
course at Garras. NAS Director attended the January 30 graduation
10. On January 22, sixty-seven participants from the BNP completed
a one-week Drug Investigator training course held in Potosi. BNP
and NAS staff taught the course.
11. The National BNP commander, National FELCN Director and the
Vice Minister for Social Defense selected four BNP officers to be
assigned to the new CN polygraph unit. NAS has agreed to provide
appropriate infrastructure and administrative support to this
anti-corruption initiative. The four examiners received training
and certification through a NAS-sponsored polygraph examiner
training course. The unit will be responsible for providing
polygraph examinations to all BNP officers working in the GOB's CN
Trafficking in Persons & Victim Assistance Programs
12. During January NAS worked with the BNP to select and designate
30 BNP investigators who will be assigned to the six new TIP
offices that will be opened over the next 60 days in the border
cities of Tarija, Desaguadero, Puerto Suarez, Cobija, Villazon &
Prevention and Demand Reduction
13. From January 20-22 the nine Department Coordinators for the
D.A.R.E. program participated in a leadership workshop in La Paz.
The goal of the seminar was to improve the leadership and
management skills of the D.A.R.E. officers (all members of the
BNP), as part of a broader effort to solidify the position of the
D.A.R.E. program within the BNP and to expand the program's reach
The NAS Helo and Small Wing Program (Red Devils Task Force)
continued to urge the GOB to assign additional personnel to the
unit, in order to ensure the full and safe operation of the
program.. The NAS C130 Program (Black Devils) flew three missions
to the northern city of Cobija to evacuate 276 soldiers who had
been stranded due to flooding.