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Operation Blast Furnace

Beginning in July 1986 US troops provided logistical support for Bolivian National Police find-and-destroy operations against coca-processing facilities in the Chapare, Beni and Santa Cruz areas. Six US Blackhawk helicopters and 160 US support personnel under Operation Blast Furnace included aviation and counterinsurgency training, as well as helicopter logistical support. Blast Furnace focused on law enforcement raids against traffickers in villages, which was seen as an attack on peasants. In October 1986, as Blast Furnace was winding down, some 6,000 residents of Santa Ana de Yacuma in Beni expelled 150 American soldiers and Bolivian police officers. The publicity surrounding the action allowed narco-traffickers to flee target areas in advance of Blast Furnace operations. The four-month operation temporarily depressed coca prices, but its effects were short-lived.


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