LA PAZ – The Bolivian government announced on Tuesday that it has militarized a town bordering on Brazil that has been the scene of a series of murders linked to drug trafficking.
Defense Minister Reymi Ferreira told the media that President Evo Morales militarized San Matias so the army can take part in security operations requested by the local Town Hall, the civic committee and regional lawmakers.
Ferreira said the militarization will last as long as necessary and that the troops will do their duty with respect for human rights and in coordination with local police.
For his part, Interior Minister Carlos Romero said on state radio that this area has witnessed at least six murders in two months, as well as cases of drug trafficking, smuggling and kidnapping.
“The common denominator is drugs,” Romero said.
Security agents will take charge of San Matias “with three times more force” that is currently in place, in order to coordinate operations with Brazil, he said.
San Matias has a population of 15,600 inhabitants.
“The government’s presence there is weak, but we’re going to triple police presence and our response will be powerful,” Romero said.
Last Friday a migration inspector died after being shot seven times, supposedly by a Brazilian relative of hers who then fled the country.
Several points on the Bolivian-Brazilian border are considered places where Bolivian and Peruvian cocaine is stored before being smuggled into Brazil.