LA PAZ – At least six people died, three of Serbian nationality and three Bolivians, and one was kidnapped in an assault perpetrated by suspected drug traffickers in the eastern province of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, local media reported Saturday.
The incident occurred on Friday night, when the victims were stopped at a bogus police checkpoint and were tied up, tortured and executed, according to a preliminary investigation.
The gunmen also kidnapped the Bolivian William Rosales Suarez, who police said was “the ringleader of a drug-trafficking gang in Santa Cruz,” supposedly to collect a reward of $1 million.
Rosales’ mother, Dora Suarez, told the media that her son, though he had previously trafficked drugs, is currently dedicated to stock raising.
Also injured in the assault was a man of Colombian nationality, who said that he “played dead” so that, once the assailants had gone, he could put the bodies in a vehicle and drive to a police station to report the case.
The injured man was later admitted to a Santa Cruz hospital and is in critical condition with three bullet wounds to the shoulder, abdomen and leg.
According to a preliminary forensic report, the six victims were executed, all shot in the head several times.
The victims’ attorney, Denver Pedraza, said that according to the first police reports, the incident has not been linked to drug trafficking as yet, though the record of the dead makes it look like it was done to collect a reward.
Pedraza said that a number of house searches and arrests might well be carried out in the next few hours.