Crime & Justice

Bolivian authorities discover new cocaine mega-lab inside natural park

Santa Teresita, Bolivia, May 21 (EFE).- Bolivian Interior Minister Carlos Eduardo Del Castillo on Friday announced the discovery of a new cocaine mega-laboratory inside a natural park in the northern Amazon department of Beni.

The operation by Bolivian anti-narcotics agents and a group of federal officials led by Del Castillo was carried out in a section of the Isiboro Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (Tipnis) that is located in Beni, near the indigenous community of Santa Teresita.

The laboratory had the capacity “to manufacture between 100-200 kilos of crystallized cocaine per day” and featured 11 spaces where around 20 people were able to perform tasks that included chemically manipulating, distilling, diluting and drying the drug, the minister said.

“More than 110 kilos of coca paste” also were found inside the lab, according to Del Castillo, who said no arrests have been made thus far.

Authorities were clued in to the potential presence of another mega-laboratory after members of the Mobile Rural Patrol Unit (Umopar) had destroyed nine mobile cocaine labs near Tipnis earlier this week.

Authorities believe that both Bolivians and foreigners worked at the cocaine mega-lab considering its manufacturing capacity and the facility’s estimated cost of $300,000.

In recent days, authorities have announced the discovery of five mega-labs, two of them located in the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One of those labs had the capacity to produce a half ton of high-purity cocaine per day, while the other was in the process of being installed.

Del Castillo on Friday stressed the government’s commitment to “protecting national parks from criminal organizations devoted to drug trafficking.”

Last week, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Bolivia said a total of 467 acts of incineration/destruction of illegal drugs were carried out nationwide in 2020, down 14 percent from 2019.



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