HomeNewsBriefPeru Contraband Seizure Highlights Smuggling In Bolivia Border Region
BRIEF

Peru Contraband Seizure Highlights Smuggling In Bolivia Border Region

CONTRABAND / 15 JUL 2014 BY CAMILO MEJIA GIRALDO EN

Authorities in Peru have seized over 200 tons of contraband after a violent confrontation with smugglers operating as part of the so-called "Snake of the North" -- a smuggling chain in which convoys of vehicles move products originating from Chile through Bolivia and into Peru.

The operation, which took place on July 14 in the southwest border region of Puno, involved around 300 police and customs officers and culminated with the capture of numerous trucks and buses carrying over 220 tons of contraband -- including gasoline, clothes, liquor and cigarettes -- worth an estimated $2 million reported La Andina

The smugglers violently resisted the raid, local media reported, although exactly what took place remains unclear. According to Los Andes, the seizure followed an exchange of fire between the smugglers and the security forces, while according to La Republica, police were forced to confront some 200 smugglers who attacked them with sticks, rocks and homemade explosives. However, just two people were detained as a result of the operation. Pachamama Radio reported that some police were injured in the confrontation.

InSight Crime Analysis

The recent operation serves to highlight the ongoing activities of the so-called "Culebra del Norte" (Snake of the North), a name used to refer to convoys of trucks that move contraband west along the route from the Bolivian border through the Puno province to the hub city of Juliaca, from where the illicit merchandise is shipped out to various southern provinces and regions. The contraband originates in Arica and Iquique in northern Chile, from where it is brought up through Oruro and La Paz in Bolivia.

SEE ALSO: Peru News and Profiles

According to a 2011 article from La Republica, convoys of between 30 and 100 trucks leave twice a week from the Bolivian border carrying up to 15 tons of contraband at a time. Customs authorities have said there are four main contraband families controlling the movement of these caravans on the Peruvian side.

Efforts by Peruvian authorities have had little impact in slowing the trade, with just a couple of trucks usually caught in a given caravan, and the contraband runners constantly expanding routes, according to La Razon.

The Peru-Bolivia border region is home to a thriving smuggling trade, which is propagated in part by impoverished border communities on the Bolivian side that have a long history of subsisting off the contraband economy. In Bolivia, smugglers exploit porous borders with the country's more prosperous neighbors by trafficking goods such as contraband cigarettes, stolen cars and gasoline -- the last of which is a lucrative trade due to Bolivian subsidies on fuel. Sources in the region told InSight Crime contraband operations are separate from drug trafficking but smuggled cars are sometimes used as collateral or payment for drug deals.

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

ECUADOR / 8 JUL 2016

An investigation in Ecuador has revealed how the country has become a major transit hub for illegal Peruvian gold exported…

COLOMBIA / 25 FEB 2013

Venezuela's National Guard found more than 5 tons of marijuana hidden in a fuel tanker in the border state of…

HUMAN TRAFFICKING / 4 OCT 2011

Peruvian authorities rescued at least 234 women, many of whom had reportedly been trafficked, from brothels in the remote region…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.