Morales wants DEA out of Bolivia

Nov. 2, 2008 at 1:52 AM

LA PAZ, Bolivia, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- The Bolivian government will take over anti-drug efforts in Bolivia, replacing the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, President Evo Morales said Saturday.

Morales said he was suspending DEA operations in a speech he gave in a remote area, which was broadcast throughout Bolivia, CNN reported. The DEA said it had received no official notification from the Bolivian government.

More than a month ago, Morales ordered DEA agents to leave the Chapare region, the major cocaine area. He said he could no longer guarantee their safety in the violence-torn region.

Morales, the first Bolivian Indian to become president, has had an increasingly contentious relationship with the United States. Bolivia and the United States recently had a tit-for-tat expulsion of their ambassadors.

"If this is true, it is an unfortunate situation," Garrison Courtney, a DEA spokesman, said Saturday. "We've been working with our counterparts for over 30 years and have a tremendous working relationship with our Bolivian counterparts."

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