HomeNewsBriefDisbanded Human Trafficking Clans Show Bolivia's Forced Labor Role
BRIEF

Disbanded Human Trafficking Clans Show Bolivia's Forced Labor Role

BOLIVIA / 24 APR 2014 BY MIMI YAGOUB EN

Police in Bolivia have broken up 10 family-based "clans" in recent years that were dedicated to luring unwitting workers into forced labor, in a sign of the country's increasing use as both a source of victims and a transit point for human trafficking operations.  

During a mass protest against human trafficking and smuggling in Bolivian city La Paz, a human rights spokesperson told La Razon that 10 family-run trafficking groups have been dismantled since 2010, a number based on a study of journalistic reports during the time period. The groups mainly trafficked Bolivians into Argentina and forced them to work in the likes of clothing manufacturing and agriculture. The victims -- who largely came from the border states of Potosi, Oruro and Tarija in the south and west of the county -- were mostly between 20 and 25 years of age and went on the promise of a daily wage of about $21 when their actual pay was a third of that. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Human Trafficking

Bolivia has also become a transit route for human trafficking victims from Senegal, according to Interior Minister Carlos Romero. Romero said authorities had "discovered a large gang" that trafficked Senegalese nationals into Brazil and that in 2013 more than 200 citizens from the West African country were discovered in Bolivia. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Bolivia's large and porous border with Brazil and to a lesser extent Argentina makes it an ideal location for the trafficking of both drugs and people, with the South American country having one of the highest human trafficking rates in the region. The problem appears to be escalating, with the number of reported cases jumping from 35 in 2005 to 363 in 2013. Neighboring Brazil's booming economy -- bolstered by cheap manufacturing -- has caused labor exploitation to flourish with a 1,500 percent increase in 2013 of human trafficking incidents reported.  

The most recent US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report (pdf) specifies that Bolivian nationals are found to be laboring in sweatshops, agriculture and domestic service in not only Brazil and Argentina, but also Chile, Peru, Spain and the United States. Bolivia has also emerged as a key transit point, with various groups of Bangladeshis found en route to irregular employment in Brazil, while the trafficking of Haitian and Senegalese nationals through Bolivia has also previously been reported.

While it is often sex trafficking that receives greatest attention, illegal and forced labor in conditions sometimes extreme enough to be labelled "modern day slavery" is a major problem in the region, driven by economic disparities between countries and inadequate law enforcement resources to tackle it.

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

BOLIVIA / 8 NOV 2022

The Amazon is being plundered at an accelerating rate. Deforesters across Bolivia and Ecuador are emboldened to clear trees for…

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC / 11 AUG 2022

A network which sexually trafficked Colombian and Venezuelan women to the Dominican Republic has been dismantled.

ARGENTINA / 7 MAR 2022

Paraguay has launched the biggest operation against cocaine trafficking and money laundering in its history, unleashing a scandal that has…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

All Eyes on Ecuador

2 JUN 2023

Our coverage of organized crime in Ecuador continues to be a valuable resource for international and local news outlets. Internationally, Reuters cited our 2022 Homicide Round-Up,…

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Social Media and Engagement Strategist

27 MAY 2023

InSight Crime is looking for a Social Media and Engagement Strategist who will be focused on maintaining and improving InSight Crime’s reputation and interaction with its audiences through publishing activities…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Coverage Receives Great Reception

27 MAY 2023

Several of InSight Crime’s most recent articles about Venezuela have been well received by regional media. Our article on Venezuela’s colectivos expanding beyond their political role to control access to…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime's Chemical Precursor Report Continues

19 MAY 2023

For the second week in a row, our investigation into the flow of precursor chemicals for the manufacture of synthetic drugs in Mexico has been cited by multiple regional media…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Chemical Precursor Report Widely Cited

THE ORGANIZATION / 12 MAY 2023

We are proud to see that our recently published investigation into the supply chain of chemical precursors feeding Mexico’s synthetic drug production has been warmly received.