A drug trafficker's description of the economics of selling Peruvian cocaine inside Bolivia may feed speculation over just how much of Bolivia's cocaine is produced inside the country, and how much actually originates from abroad.
According to a drug trafficker interviewed by Peruvian newspaper La Republica, purified cocaine paste can be bought for $850 a kilo in Monzon or Tingo Maria in central Peru, just north of the country's drug producing heartland. If the shipment makes it to La Paz, the cocaine can be resold for between $1,600 and $2,000 per kilo.
The price of the kilo rises with the amount of risk involved and the length of the journey, according to the trafficker. A transporter charges $50 per kilo for drugs moved to the Peruvian coast, but $300 per kilo for drugs taken to Bolivia. Bolivia is also an attractive destination because the risk of being discovered by Bolivian authorities is low, he added.
The majority of shipments taking this route belong to people linked to Mexican cartels, which only deal in quantities larger than one ton and pay $1,400 a kilo, the trafficker said.
InSight Crime Analysis
In addition to being a major producer of coca and cocaine, Bolivia is an important transit nation for Peruvian and Colombian-origin narcotics. There has been some speculation over how much of the cocaine seized inside Bolivia is actually produced abroad -- in 2011, one anti-drug official said that over half of the cocaine shipments seized in Bolivia originated in Peru. The question is whether increased amounts of cocaine are being seized inside Bolivia because internal cocaine production is on the rise (as the White House has asserted), or because more traffickers (like the one interviewed by La Republica) are selling Peruvian product on Bolivian ground.
Peru and Bolivia recently announced plans to form a binational border police to tackle cross border trafficking. However, with traffickers increasingly relying on drug flights passing through Bolivia to create an "air bridge" between Peru and Brazil and Argentina, security forces face a stiff challenge in stemming the flow of drug shipments along this route.