HomeNewsBriefToo Little Too Late? Bolivia, Brazil to Boost Efforts Against Criminal Migration
BRIEF

Too Little Too Late? Bolivia, Brazil to Boost Efforts Against Criminal Migration

BOLIVIA / 24 JUL 2017 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

Authorities in Bolivia and Brazil will enter into a bilateral agreement later this month aimed at combating the expansion of Brazilian criminal groups into Bolivia, but the move might prove to be a tardy and ultimately insufficient response to this phenomenon.

Starting July 26, four high-ranking Brazilian police officers will be stationed in the Bolivian cities of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Puerto Suárez, Guayaramerín and Cobija to coordinate everyday security operations with Bolivian police forces, El Deber reported.

Bolivia has been pushing for this bilateral exchange for three years, according to El Deber, while Brazil has wanted to confirm the presence of Brazilian crime groups in Bolivia first. But after an attack on a jewelry store in eastern Bolivia July 13 that left five dead, three of whom were allegedly linked to Brazil’s First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC), officials said the move was immediately initiated. However, there is some disagreement about whether this attack actually involved the PCC.

SEE ALSO: Bolivia News and Profile

Marcio Christiano, a prosecutor in the PCC’s home city of São Paulo, told El Deber that the crime group did not participate in the jewelry store heist, and that their presence in Bolivia is primarily linked to drug trafficking, explaining that Bolivia is one of Brazil’s “natural partners” for cocaine production in South America.

Bolivia Deputy Minister for Social Defense Felipe Cáceres seemed to echo these statements, and told El Deber that the PCC is primarily involved in drug trafficking activities and decided to migrate into Bolivia to expand their power and control over that industry. 

In addition to the PCC, which is thought to have the strongest foreign criminal presence in Bolivia with an estimated 1,500 members, Bolivian authorities have identified two other Brazilian criminal groups operating in Bolivia: the Red Command (Comando Vermelho) and Family of the North (Família do Norte – FDN). The Red Command and FDN have since allied against the PCC to dispute the latter’s control, according to El Deber.

However, Bolivian Interior Minister Carlos Romero recently said that Brazilian crime groups are “sharing territorial control” in Bolivia, pointing to conflicting assessments of the relationships among these groups. The FDN and the Red Command have been aligned in a broader war with the PCC that rocked Brazil’s prison system earlier this year with a wave of extreme violence.

InSight Crime Analysis 

While increased bilateral cooperation is a step in the right direction, it is unlikely to be a gamechanger in the short term as the dynamics of Brazilian crime groups in Bolivia are not fully understood.

Kathryn Ledebur, the executive director of the Andean Information Network (AIN), told InSight Crime that there is not enough information available about the PCC in Bolivia to draw any firm conclusions about its operations there, adding that the “drug trade in and through Bolivia tends to be quite decentralized” and that it has not generally led to “violent competition to control routes or territory.” 

SEE ALSO: PCC News and Profile

On the other hand, there is a long history of collaboration between Brazilian and Bolivian crime groups on contraband smuggling, and some experts believe this dynamic has intensified recently. Eduardo Gamarra, a political science professor at Florida International University, told InSight Crime he feels that the planned boost in bilateral efforts will not be enough to deter the PCC from expanding their operations in Bolivia, estimating the gang’s presence to be much larger than the 1,500 estimated by Bolivian officals.

“The number [of PCC members in Bolivia] is probably much higher than Bolivian authorities are willing to recognize, [and] involves more than simple foot soldiers, maybe even mid- and top-level decision makers,” Gamarra told InSight Crime.

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 / 11 JAN 2017

Latin America witnessed a criminal boom in illegal mining in 2016, and a rise of complementary illicit activities, as organized…

BRAZIL / 16 FEB 2018

Brazil’s biggest annual celebration came to a close amid several indications of deepening insecurity in Rio de Janeiro, as well…

BOLIVIA / 19 JUN 2018

Police in Bolivia have captured three alleged members of one of Brazil's most powerful criminal groups after a brazen armed…

Institutional Content

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. …