Bolivian police have discovered a pickup truck smuggling cocaine in modified secret compartments operated by remote control, illustrating the continued ingenuity of drug traffickers in moving their product.
Members of Bolivia's anti-narcotics police unit (FELCN) encountered the Toyota Tacoma "narco truck" near the town of San Ramon, reported El Dia. A video published on Youtube shows how the back section of the truck could be lifted on and off the wheels to reveal hiding space in the truck bed. Along with other secret compartments under the seats and control panel, the vehicle was capable up transporting up to 500 kilos of drugs.
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"At the press of a button the compartments open and have the possibility of hiding large quantities of cocaine," said FELCN director Alex Rojas, who thought the drugs were destined for Brazil, reported El Dia.
The "transformer truck" was pulled over after FELCN agents noticed the occupants accelerate upon seeing them. The agents, expecting a routine traffic stop, became suspicious after finding wrapped cables in the truck's motor that led to an electric device. When activated, the device lifted the back of the truck to reveal the hidden compartment. The vehicle tested positive for traces of cocaine.
Rojas, noting the ingenuity of the drug traffickers, said that in light of this discovery police controls would be more rigorous and thorough, reported La Razon.
InSight Crime Analysis
Drug trafficking groups have always sought new and better ways to transport their product and in recent years technological advancements in trafficking have been impressive. The first fully-submersible submarine used to transport drugs was discovered in Ecuador in 2010 and another in Colombia a year later, while a highly sophisticated narco "super tunnel" was found running between San Diego and Tijuana last year. Drugs have been hidden in statues and theater props, while ultra-light aircraft and even trained pigeons have been used to fly drugs over the US-Mexico border.
Investing in the design and creation of technologically-advanced vehicles is expensive and testament to the amount of revenue that technology can bring in, as specially designed vehicles transport more drugs in a shorter time. The funding of such projects largely falls to big criminal organizations, which are the ones who have the money to put into research and development, raising the question of whether a group such as the First Capital Command -- the powerful Brazilian prison gang that controls a significant proportion of Brazil's cocaine trade and Bolivia's trafficking routes -- was behind the "narco truck," especially given the absence of large-scale domestic criminal organizations in Bolivia.