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In the previous seven months, there were at least three burnings of customs posts in different parts of the country, mobs of smugglers who defend their illegal merchandise and who use a new “modes operandi” for this, which is “dramatization” or passing the word to the locals that there is a dead person, in addition to the fact that they even kidnapped a prosecutor.
The manager of the Bolivian Institute of Foreign Trade (IBCE), Gary Rodríguez, affirmed this Monday that if this type of aggression is allowed to proliferate, the “law of the strongest” will be imposed on Bolivian territory.
“We must regret this situation that occurred last week in Orinoca as an affront to the institutions and the laws. It is not the first time that this has happened, since in 2021 there were aggressions that have to do with illegality and smuggling, there were burning of customs warehouses and strong confrontations and now the kidnapping of prosecutors, ”Rodríguez explained in an interview with Unitel.
He added that everything that has to do with the border with Chile, unfortunately, is infested with contraband and aggressions not only occur at the borders but throughout the territory, when attempts are made to seize illegal merchandise that affects the Bolivian economy.
In 2021, the National Customs identified at least five clans of smugglers operating in the country and that from August to date, at least three customs posts were attacked, from where merchandise was stolen, documentation was stolen and facilities were burned, which caused millions losses.
On August 9, 2021, a mob led by an activist broke into the Customs warehouses in Puerto Quijarro, in Santa Cruz, where they managed to steal 3.5 tons of contraband merchandise.
On August 31 of that same year, the seizure of contraband flour and dry gut in the town of Yacuses, 90 kilometers from Puerto Suárez, in the province of Germán Busch, ended in the burning of the customs post in that town.
In September, a group of about 80 people carried out a violent attack and set fire to the Customs Inspection Post in Villazón, in southern Potosí, causing material damage to those facilities and also to the Army.
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Then, in November, an Army non-commissioned officer died from the impact of a bullet during an ambush on smugglers in the city of El Alto, where the caravan of the Strategic Operational Command for the Fight Against Smuggling was located.
They had moved there after carrying out an operation in the town of Patacamaya, in La Paz, where four bundles of used clothing and 20 boxes of alcoholic beverages were seized. It is one of the many cases registered due to confrontation with organized groups and that now they are not afraid to attack the forces of order within the capital cities of the country.
The previous week, in the town of Orinoca, Oruro, smugglers and locals did not allow the kidnapping of seven trucks with contraband merchandise, because they used the strategy of spreading the word about the presumed death of a young man, with the sole purpose of unleashing the fury of the people.
In this regard, the Customs prosecutor, Williams Paredes, denounced last night that he was kidnapped for a few minutes by the residents of Orinoca, but was later rescued by members of the Strategic Operational Control (COE).
He added that in order to prevent the seizure operation from being carried out, the residents of Orinoca spread the word of an alleged deceased in order to “dramatize and dramatize” the situation so that the uniformed officers were expelled from the area.