Bolivian police have seized more than one million dollars after suspected drug traffickers tossed the loot from a low-flying airplane in Santa Cruz province, an official report says.
The Bolivian Interior Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that “a white bag containing, it later became evident, 26 bundles of cash” was tossed from an airplane flying over a clandestine airstrip, but missed its mark and was seized by authorities on Tuesday.
The booty was meant to be collected by other gang members on the ground in the eastern province, said Interior Minister Carlos Romero.
However, anti-drug police raided the airstrip and seized the cash in US dollar bills of various denominations and wrapped with a seal from a bank in neighboring Paraguay.
The police said they seized the money along with an automatic rifle and other weapons, cell phones, and two vehicles.
The drug proceeds were going to be used either to build a cocaine production center or to set up a fake commercial enterprise in Bolivia, police said.
At least three Bolivians have been arrested in the investigation, authorities noted.
The statement comes as Bolivia bolsters its drug enforcement capabilities after expelling US drug enforcement agents from its territory.
Bolivian President Evo Morales ordered the US Drug Enforcement Administration in November 2008 to leave, after accusing it of being involved in political unrest and drug-trafficking in the country.
Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia are now the world’s biggest coca leaf and cocaine producers, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.