HomeNewsBriefArrest of Bolivia Drug Trafficker Highlights Ties to Foreign Criminal Groups
BRIEF

Arrest of Bolivia Drug Trafficker Highlights Ties to Foreign Criminal Groups

BOLIVIA / 16 OCT 2014 BY KYRA GURNEY EN

Authorities in Bolivia have arrested an alleged major drug trafficker who managed to evade capture for 19 years, in a case that illustrates the links between Bolivian and foreign criminal groups, as well as the difficulties authorities face in combatting the drug trade. 

On October 14, Bolivia’s anti-drug agency (FELCN) announced the capture of Jose Cristobal Delgadillo Valencia, alias “El Cristo,” who had been arrested two days earlier in the city of Santa Cruz after casting his ballot in Bolivia’s presidential election. According to the local FELCN director, Julio Velasquez, investigations revealed that Delgadillo had ties to groups that trafficked drugs to Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, and Argentina, reported La Razon.

Velasquez stated that Delgadillo was one of the country’s most dangerous drug traffickers and had been wanted by authorities since 1995, when he was captured while allegedly transporting cocaine destined for Paraguay. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison, but managed to escape.

Delgadillo is also believed to be the owner of a mega cocaine laboratory discovered in 2011 in a national park north of Cochabamba, reported Opinion. Equipped with 21 rooms and a landing strip and guarded by Colombian snipers, the laboratory was estimated to have produced around 100 kilos of cocaine a day.

InSight Crime Analysis

Delgadillo is a good example of how transnational drug trafficking works in Bolivia, as local drug clans primarily work with Colombian and Brazilian traffickers to feed domestic markets in Brazil and Argentina. Bolivia has become a regional drug trafficking hub in recent years, attracting criminal groups from other parts of South America and producing coca base for cocaine and “basuco,” a derivative similar to crack cocaine. The country also serves as a transit point for Paraguayan marijuana and Peruvian coca base. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Bolivia

The fact that Delgadillo was able to remain a fugitive for so long is also suggestive of the difficulty that Bolivian authorities are facing in cracking down on organized crime. In spite of his alleged status as a major drug trafficker, Delgadillo not only managed to evade capture for almost 20 years, but was reportedly involved in a major cocaine production operation while keeping authorities at bay.

According to Opinion, Delgadillo used to head a drug clan known as the Jesus Christ group that worked with Paraguayan drug trafficker Marcelino Coleman, who allegedly controlled a quarter of Bolivia’s cocaine trade in the mid-1990s.

Santa Cruz, where Delgadillo was captured, is a major drug hub and hosts both Colombian and Brazilian criminal groups. 

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Related Content

BOLIVIA / 19 JUL 2012

A Bolivian newspaper report reveals details of the internal economies within the country's prisons, where cells are sold for as…

BOLIVIA / 29 NOV 2013

Bolivia has seized 18.8 tons of cocaine and cocaine paste this year, a drop of nearly 50 percent from 2012's…

BOLIVIA / 19 JUL 2012

Iran will provide training and equipment to Bolivia’s anti-drug task force, demonstrating Bolivia’s determination to look beyond the United States…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Strategic Communications Manager Job Description

12 FEB 2021

InSight Crime is looking for a full-time strategic communications manager. This person needs to be able to work in a fast-paced world of daily news, high-profile investigations, national and international…

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …