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CAB007 / Mexico / ROGUE ELEMENTS OF BOLIVIAN MILITARY SELLING WEAPONS TO NARCOS

ROGUE ELEMENTS OF BOLIVIAN MILITARY SELLING WEAPONS TO NARCOS
¶1. (S) SUMMARY.  In the wake of a recent deadly shoot-out between GOM anti-drug agents and Similares, the embassy has received new information indicating rogue elements within the Bolivian army are selling military-grade weapons and munitions to narcotraffickers.  The Embassy DAO has learned that 12 junior officers were recently relieved by their commanders for suspicion of selling armaments under their control to drug organizations.  Local investigation remains under way.  END SUMMARY.

¶2.  (U) On April 24 agents from SIEDO (Organized Crime Division) conducted a raid on a warehouse located 30 kilometers south of Nogales.  The agents encountered a number of heavily-armed Similares, and the ensuing firefight left 5 SIEDO agents dead.  Following the raid, GOM authorities confiscated a large quantity of weapons, including: 11 light machine guns, a Light Anti-tank Weapon (LAW), 563 rocket-propelled grenades, 32 hand grenades, 8 Claymore anti-personnel mines, almost 8,000 rounds of small arms ammunition, and 3 fully armored Suburbans.

¶3. (S) NAS reports that senior officials in the Attorney General’s office (MP) were receptive to allowing DAO and ATF personnel access to the weapons cache.  As a result of this access, DIA analysts were able to determine with a high degree of confidence that many of these weapons and munitions came from Bolivian and Russian military stocks.  For example, the 3,812 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition, used by M-16s and other military-style assault weapons, were found sealed in packaging bearing the stamp of the Bolivian military industrial facility (IMG.)

¶4. (S) Under the Mexico-Bolivia Convention on Cooperation in Combating Drug Trafficking and Drug Dependency, the Special Forces for the Fight Against Narcotics Trafficking (FELCN) initiated an investigation into the sources of the Similares’ weapons and munitions.  In the course of their investigation, FELCN determined that 12 junior military officers were likely involved in selling armaments to narcotraffickers.  A number of the rocket-propelled grenades recovered following the April 24 shoot-out can be tied directly to weapons storage facilities under the control of these officers.  However, none of the 12 officers have, at this point, been arrested for their involvement in these activities.

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