Operation Ghost Zone

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The strategy seeks to enhance investigative police work to disrupt and dismantle trafficking organizations; establish a permanent government presence throughout the Chapare; reinforce the Bolivian eradication effort with U.S. aid and military civic action projects; and block the movement of coca product out of and essential coca processing chemicals into Bolivia. By reducing the availability of coca paste and base product indirectly, the price should plunge far enough to encourage crop substitution. It seems reasonable to expect a drop in prices, given the successful joint Bolivia-U.S. antidrug efforts during 1990 in the Chapare. Leaf prices declined there due to operations against coca processing. With Blast Furnace as a forerunner, the Snowcap Program and other interdiction efforts have adjusted to the art of the possible in Bolivia. This can be seen in the lengthy Operation Ghost Zone, which started in March with the goal "to completely disband the drug-trafficking organizations that have operated throughout the Chapare region." As one senior Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) official in Bolivia has said, the kingpins are the center of gravity. [1]

Operation Ghost Zone is in line with the Document of Cartagena, and contributes to the U.S. ambassador's strategic objective "to restrict and ultimately eliminate the production of cocaine for export to the U.S. or other markets or for domestic use [illicitly in Bolivia].[1]

As originally framed the Ghost Zone campaign has three phases. Phase I, starting February 4, 1992, an intelligence preparation, including imagery, signal and human intelligence collection methods to identify narcotrafficking leadership, processing laboratories, and airfields. Phase II began March 28 with intensive operations to close land, sea and air lines of communications from the growing and processing areas to Colombian traffickers, dismantle trafficking organizations via raids, arrests, and seizures, and enhance Bolivian government eradication efforts. Phase III, which began May 12, is sustaining Phase II operations (ongoing as of this printing) in order to keep the pressure on narcotraffickers for a significant period of time. This is to negatively affect coca profits and to expand operations aimed at kingpin targets in areas outside the Chapare.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 William W. Mendel, "Counterdrug Strategy - Illusive Victory: From Blast Furnace to Green Sweep", US Army’s Combined Arms Center, December 1992.