LA PAZ – On July 14, Bolivia will start the opening of seven ditches on the border with Chile to prevent smuggling, according to statements by Defense Minister Reymi Ferreira.
The excavations will be done in critical areas near Todos Santos, Tambo Quemado and Pisiga, in order to prevent the passage of trucks with illegal merchandise.
The authorities’ project includes an investment of $21 million USD and also foresees the construction of 20 military checkpoints along the line of demarcation and the improvement of the equipment to the units located there.
The two countries share a border of around 900 kilometers and it is estimated that 70 percent of the smuggling entering Bolivia come from Chile.
The decision to strengthen the area was adopted after Chilean police arrested on March 19 nine Bolivians facing illegal traffic in goods.
The seven customs officers and two soldiers returned to the country this week, after more than 100 days of detention at the Alto Hospicio prison in Iquique.
Chilean authorities condemned the nine officials for theft, smuggling and illegal possession of weapons, imposed them a fine of $48,000 USD and expelled them from the country, as a substitute measure for three years in prison.
President Evo Morales considered the arrest of the nine nationals as an aggression against all Bolivians.
According to data from the Ministry of Economy, the Amazonian Andean nation annually loses annually billions of dollars for tax evasion, mainly in the areas of food, beverages, textiles and household appliances.