Spanish Customs seized almost half a ton of cocaine that arrived via a Bolivian state airline.
Eight days after learning that Spanish Customs seized almost half a ton of cocaine that arrived via a Bolivian state airline, It is not yet known who the drug belonged to. nor has any criminal organization been disrupted.
But five low-ranking officials have been arrested and the scandal hits the government of Luis Arce, who has given different versions of when he found out about the confiscation.
The opposition criticized the government for take four months to start the investigation after the head of the anti-drug police force, Colonel Jose Illanes, said that he had known about the case since February, which was denied by the Minister of Government, Eduardo Del Castillo.
Among those arrested there are two stevedores from the state-owned Boliviana de Aviacion (BoA), the head of police intelligence at the Santa Cruz airport -in the eastern part of the country- and two employees of a shipping service, reported Del Castillo. Also they were dismissed the BoA regional chief and an airport service official, while police anti-drug personnel have been relieved.
“Such a large amount (of cocaine) could not have been sent to Spain by just two people… this is not an organization that was born in our country, is an international organization that has permeated different institutions,” the minister said at a press conference.
The Vice Minister of Social Defense, Jaime Mamani, acknowledged that found out about the case at the end of May by the media and social networks” and from that moment an investigation was opened that the Prosecutor’s Office has declared confidential.
“We are sorry to see that some ministers hide information to the brother president Luis Arce”, the former president and head of the ruling Movement for Socialism (MAS) Evo Morales commented on his Twitter account on Wednesday, referring to the date on which Colonel Illanes said he had learned of the case.
“The huge cargo transported in BoA shows the penetration of drug trafficking in the government and the institutional and political complicity”commented on the same social network the former president and main opposition leader Carlos Mesa (2003-2005).
On May 30, the Ministry of Finance and Public Function of Spain reported in a bulletin that the Madrid Customs Administration had seized 478 kilos of Bolivian cocaine that had been deposited in a warehouse at the Madrid-Barajas airport.
The confiscation took place on February 11 but it was not known publicly in Bolivia until the publication of that bulletin.
Until now it is unknown how the controls at the Madrid airport were circumvented. “It is a shameful fact for the country”, Mommy acknowledged.
For his part, presidential spokesman Jorge Richter said that the president gave the instruction that the case is fully investigated.
Bolivia is the third world producer of coca and cocaine after Colombia and Peru. The authorities deny that large cartels operate in the country and attribute the trafficking to “emissaries”, but the adjustments of accounts are frequent and the arrests of members of the Comando Vermelho and the PCC, the two most dangerous criminal organizations in Brazil and which have ramifications in Bolivian territory.
In Bolivia the cultivation of up to 22,000 hectares of coca is legal for traditional consumption, but according to estimates by international organizations, the cultivated area is around 30,000 hectares. The country is also the transit route for Peruvian cocaine to Brazil, according to authorities.