Security & Strategic Review - May 2022

BOLIVIA: Heads roll at counter-narcotics agency

It has been a turbulent few months for Bolivia’s counter-narcotics agency (FELCN). An arrest warrant for the FELCN’s director, José María Velasco, was issued on 7 April, after Velasco was accused of protecting drug traffickers in Cochabamba department. This followed a US extradition request in February for Maximiliano Dávila, who headed the FELCN during the final months of the Evo Morales administration (2006-2019), and the sentencing of former FELCN director René Sanabria (2008-2009) to 10 years in prison on 6 April. All three directors served under the ruling left-wing Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), raising questions over the party’s capacity to crack down on drug trafficking and undermining its repeated claims that corruption and narco-activity are decreasing after a boom under the previous government led by Jeanine Áñez (2019-2020).

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