Bolivia has mobilized more than 2,250 security agents in a massive operation closing in on an alleged cocaine trafficker who has ricocheted around the world to elude capture, a senior official said on Sunday.
The target of the hunt is Sebastian Enrique Marset Cabrera, wanted on drugs charges in his native Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and the United States.
“A series of raids have been carried out in the department of Santa Cruz… (for) a drug trafficker of high value for our region and the whole world,” Bolivian Interior Minister Eduardo del Castillo said.
“We have mobilized more than 2,250 police officers, more than 144 motorized vehicles, we have carried out more than 23 operations, six raids and the arrest of 12 people,” Del Castillo said.
Marset Cabrera, who is 32, is believed to be in Santa Cruz, a sprawling energy-producing region of southeastern Bolivia abutting Brazil and Paraguay.
Del Castillo said Marset Cabrera is accompanied by his Peruvian wife and three children.
“In the coming hours, we will achieve the detention of Mr. Sebastian Enrique Marset Cabrera,” Del Castillo avowed.
Heavily armed police raided a luxury home in Santa Cruz, a city of 1.9 million inhabitants that is capital of the department of the same name, and entered other properties, an AFP journalist witnessed.
Del Castillo said raids during the day netted 17 long guns, a pistol, nearly 2,000 rounds of ammunition, bullet-proof vests and 31 vehicles.
– Released from UAE prison –
Authorities said they believed Marset Cabrera entered Bolivia last September, and maintained a relatively high profile, including acquiring a professional soccer club in the nation’s Second Division.
As recently as two years ago, Marset Cabrera was in jail in the United Arab Emirates on charges of using a forged Paraguayan passport, but managed to obtain his freedom using Uruguayan documents.
Authorities accuse him of being one of the most powerful drug traffickers in the Southern Cone region, transporting multi-ton shipments through Uruguay.
He has been linked to former Paraguayan president Horacio Cartes’s uncle, who was convicted of marijuana trafficking.
Colombian President Gustavo Petro tweeted last year that Marset Cabrera was behind the high-profile slaying of a Paraguayan anti-mafia prosecutor, Marcelo Pecci, who was killed at a resort on the Colombian island of Baru in May 2022.
Two Colombian brothers were sentenced last May in Colombia to 25 years and six months in prison for their role in the slaying.
The brothers, Andres and Ramon Perez Hoyos, paid the gunman some $340,000 to shoot Pecci on Baru, where he was on a honeymoon with his pregnant wife, prosecutors said.
But Petro publicly identified Marset Cabrera as the mastermind.
“The investigation into the murder… committed by the Uruguayan drug trafficker Marset in Colombian territory shows that long ago drug trafficking ceased to be a Colombian-American bilateral problem and is today an American and world problem,” Petro tweeted last August.