INTRODUCTION: The continued export of legal and illegal coca-based narcotics is believed to be a major source of Bolivia's export revenue, exceeding that from the country's traditional staple, tin.
SV Cocaine in phials and bags on table
SV & CU Bag of cocaine weighed (2 shots)
SV Phial taken from bag and tested (2 shots)
SV More phials weighed and tested
GVs Bags of cocaine thrown into brazier and burned (2 shots)
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Background: INTRODUCTION: The continued export of legal and illegal coca-based narcotics is believed to be a major source of Bolivia's export revenue, exceeding that from the country's traditional staple, tin. Under the United Nations single convention agreement of 1961, Bolivia and neighbouring Peru were permitted to cultivate coca because both countries have large Indian populations which rely heavily upon the coca leaf to work and live in the High Sierra and Antiplano. But, over the past decade, illegal processing of coca leaves into cocaine paste or refined cocaine has boomed.
SYNOPSIS: The trade is centred in the south-eastern city of Santa Cruz, and from there is regularly dispatched to the United States and Europe, often through Colombia or the Caribbean. The narcotics police division is fighting a constant war against drug smugglers, but stakes in the multi-million dollar business are high, and smugglers are getting more sophisticated. Coca plantations are spread over such vast and often impenetrable regions that production is difficult to control. Both Peru and Bolivia were supposed to scale down annual coca production as they weaned Indians off the centuries-old habit of chewing coca leaf. But instead, estimates indicate cultivation has increased since 1961. Following Bolivia's military coup last July, the United States closed down its anti-narcotics bureau in La Paz, and suspended economic and military aid. The U.S. State Department said at that time they felt a drug programme would not be fruitful under current circumstances. But officials would neither confirm nor deny allegations from State Department sources that some members of the Bolivian armed forces were themselves actively involved in the drug traffic. The Bolivian government has strenuously denied these charges and recently introduced new programmes of narcotics detection and youth education aimed at wiping out cocaine smuggling.