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Cocaine Cowboy Photography

The Christian Lombardi Vice July 2011 Shoot Shows Drug Enforcers Action

— July 16, 2011 — Fashion
The Christian Lombardi Vice Magazine July 2011 editorial takes viewers into the dark and violent world of the Bolivian Mobile Police Unit for Rural Areas (UMOPAR) from 1997-2001 when they valiantly fought the cocaine smuggling kingpins who dominated the country.

This Christian Lombardi Vice shoot is exciting, dangerous and frightening. Lombardi spent four years embedded with the (then) CIA-funded Mobile Police Unit for Rural Areas (UMOPAR), following them on their missions as they sought to capture and destroy drugs hidden in the swamps and forests of Bolivia.

My favorite image in the Christian Lombardi Vice collection is sixth one. It shows two men dressed in fatigues examining a large ball wrapped in yellow. Lombardi's caption for the picture reads, "As we were wrapping up, a UMOPAR soldier turned to me and said, 'You forgot your camera bag!' I replied, 'I didn’t bring a bag.' We opened it and found a one-kilo ball of cocaine sulfate. A drug mule must have abandoned it on the side of the road after realizing there was a checkpoint ahead."

It's not the flashiest picture in the collection, but it perfectly illustrates the hidden danger, cat and mouse game that Christian Lombardi and the UMOPAR lived with in those turbulent years.