Deserters from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and regional drug cartels are working as assassins in Bolivia, according to police, as organized crime deepens its roots in this vulnerable Andean nation.
An intelligence report from police in Santa Cruz, a southeastern city which has become a regional trafficking hub, said there were at least four groups of "sicarios" operating in the country who were made up of former Colombian rebels and members of Paraguayan drug trafficking groups, reported La Prensa.
The assassins have lived in Bolivia for a number of years, said the report, and began by recruiting and training Bolivians, before offering their services to drug traffickers.
The FARC deserters, who often come equipped with modern weaponry, cannot return to Colombia because they are wanted by law enforcement or face reprisals from their former comrades, it said.
InSight Crime Analysis
Bolivia has become an increasingly attractive destination for organized criminals for a variety of reasons. The DEA was expelled in 2008 and has not been allowed to return, national law enforcement and the judicial system are weak and corrupt and there few controls on arms or ammunition. It is one of the world's top three producers of cocaine and has a long history or working with Colombian groups, and more recently, Brazilian ones.
Where organized crime is present, so are sicarios, necessary for "enforcing" debts and enacting punishments. The idea that ex-FARC members unable to return home would use their fighting skills to make money in a growing market seems plausible.