HomeNewsBriefCan Radar Shut Down the Bolivia Cocaine Air Bridge?
BRIEF

Can Radar Shut Down the Bolivia Cocaine Air Bridge?

BOLIVIA / 24 AUG 2016 BY LUIS FERNANDO ALONSO EN

The government in Bolivia has finalized a contract for an advanced nationwide radar system, but doubts remain as to whether this alone will be enough to halt the flow of cocaine that passes through the Andean nation.

The contract with French aerospace firm Thales, which has been two years in the making, will cost approximately $215 million and will be used to combat drug trafficking, smuggling and to protect Bolivia's National Parks, reported La Razon. The 13 radars purchased represent the cutting edge of technology and would make Bolivia's radar system the most advanced in the region, according to la Razon.

The system will be operated by the Defense Ministry's Integrated Air Defense System and Air Traffic Control Center ("Sistema Integrado de Defensa Aérea y Control de Tráfico Aéreo"- SIDACTA) which will be based in the city of Cochabamba. SIDACTA will also have teams in La Paz, Santa Cruz, and Trinidad for air traffic control and counter-narcotics operations, among other functions, reported El Deber.

InSight Crime Analysis

Bolivia is not only the third largest cocaine producer in the world, clandestine airstrips there make its countryside a key transshipment area for Peruvian cocaine moved to domestic markets and to international trafficking points in Brazil and Argentina. Much of this cocaine is moved on small aircraft using Bolivia as an "air bridge" between Peru and Brazil, and there are over 1,000 clandestine airstrips used for drug trafficking in the country, according to Bolivian anti-narcotics officials. 

The purchase of advanced radar equipment follows on from 2014 legislation allowing Bolivia's military to shoot down suspect aircraft that do not respond to warnings, and could prove a crucial tool in stemming the flow of drugs along this route. Such equipment has been credited with drastically reducing drug flights in Colombia, and more recently in Honduras

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Bolivia

However, doubts remain over Bolivia's technical capacity to fully utilize this technology. Tracking drug flights in the air alone is not enough, and Bolivia will also require the ability to either interdict these flights or use them to identify and destroy landing strips, something that will require further investments in technology, intelligence gathering and operational capacity.

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.

Tags

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

BOLIVIA / 8 AUG 2011

Peruvian authorities have dismissed Maoist guerrillas the Shining Path as "narco-terrorists" whose primary aim is drug trafficking. But the arrest…

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 / 11 AUG 2011

Bolivia will boost the number of anti-drug prosecutors in the country from 43 to 60, including 11 new posts that…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.