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‘Risky, profitable, exciting’: TikTok fuels Bolivia’s contraband car craze

Videos of the heists are all set to one song – Simon Latorre’s Chutero Yo Soy – which is now an anthem for those in the trade

High in the Bolivian Altiplano, Challapata is where the road from La Paz splits: one way to Potosí and the other to Uyuni and the salt flats. It seems an unremarkable place; many tourists steam through without even realising. But Bolivians know it to be home to the country’s biggest contraband car fair, a hub in a trade network that reaches from Japan to the Bolivian Amazon.

Contraband cars – known as chutos – are nothing new in Bolivia. But those behind the business have recently received a fresh burst of attention, as a younger generation has taken to posting videos of their adrenaline-fueled border runs on Tiktok.

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