HomeNewsBriefBolivia Seizes Largest Ever Shipment of Contraband Cigarettes
BRIEF

Bolivia Seizes Largest Ever Shipment of Contraband Cigarettes

BOLIVIA / 19 JUL 2012 BY MICHAEL KANE EN

Bolivia has made its largest ever seizure of illegal cigarettes, smuggled into the country from Paraguay. However, the confiscation is a small victory in the two countries' struggle to combat their roles as centers for the regional contraband trade.

Bolivia's military and Customs Department seized 1,046 crates of Paraguayan cigarettes, valued at $100,102, from a truck on the Santa Cruz-Villamontes highway, which is directly connected with the Paraguay border.

The driver of the truck and an accomplice were arrested and are under investigation. It is presumed they were intending to travel to Peru. Ardaya noted that because the contraband is worth more than $100,000, it is classed as a more serious crime, and that those responsible will be criminally prosecuted.

InSight Crime Analysis

The success of the two operations, dubbed “Cuevo XX” and “Los Puchos,” belie the larger problems both Paraguay and Bolivia face in terms of contraband. Neither country has succeeded in stemming the massive amounts of goods illegally flowing across their borders, due to ineptitude, corruption, and a lack of resources in their law enforcement agencies.

In October 2011, Chilean officials indicated that of the 140 illegal overland routes that cross its three borders, 106 were on the Bolivian border. Corruption within the border patrol in Bolivia has reached such a high level that Ardaya recently announced a plan for every official to carry pens with hidden micro-cameras and voice recorders that will remain on during working hours, recording their every move, in the hopes of discouraging collusion with smugglers. Bolivia's Economy Ministry estimates that the country loses between $300 million and $400 million due to smuggling each year.

Paraguay has grappled with similar issues. In September 2011, Paraguayan marines allegedly fired on Brazilian federal police as the latter were intercepting boats carrying smuggled cigarettes across the border. Just a month later, Brazil militarized the border in an aggressive action aimed at curbing the influx of smuggled goods, including guns, from Paraguay. If the allegations are true, they would indicate collusion with traffickers at the highest level of the Paraguayan security forces.

The two countries have also been unable to control their shared border. Despite Paraguay’s deployment of combat jets last April to patrol the airspace on the border and intercept illegal drug flights, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported in November that smugglers still often used Bolivia-Paraguay air routes to move contraband.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

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.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ARGENTINA / 29 JAN 2021

While unrest gripped much of Latin America in 2019, it was the coronavirus that took center stage and ripped through…

FENTANYL / 13 JUL 2022

Paraguayan authorities have dismantled a network of pharmacies that illegally sold morphine and fentanyl.

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 9 SEP 2022

Brazil's border town of Corumbá is a well-known smuggling route from Bolivia. This is unlikely to change soon.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…

WORK WITH US

Work With Us: Research Internship and Editorial Internship

31 OCT 2022

InSight Crime, a think tank dedicated to the study of organized crime and citizen security in the Americas, is seeking interns and investigators to join its dynamic, multinational team.