Search and Investigation for Peace Corps Volunteer Walter Poirier in Bolivia Remains Active and Intense; Peace Corps Welcomes Involvement of the FBI
April 18, 2001WASHINGTON, D.C., April 18, 2001—Peace Corps Acting Director Charles R. Baquet III announced today that a detailed search for a missing volunteer in Bolivia remains active and intense. Volunteer Walter Poirier, 23, of Lowell, Mass., has been unaccounted for since March 5, 2001.
"We deeply care about the health and well-being of Walter Poirier and share the concerns of Walter's family and friends regarding his safety," Baquet said. "I assure the Poirier family and the Peace Corps family that we will continue to pursue the search and the investigation until Walter is found."
The Peace Corps is actively involved in the search and investigation, headed up by the U.S. Embassy in La Paz and the Bolivian National Police. An FBI agent will travel to La Paz this weekend to assist.
The effort to find Poirier is detailed and methodical. It includes an extensive ground search in the area surrounding his home, sophisticated search and rescue techniques carried out by experienced professionals and the monitoring of all border crossings, airports, hospitals and police stations. In addition, the Bolivian media has been cooperative in broadcasting Poirier's disappearance and publishing his photograph.
"This is the longest period a volunteer has been unaccounted for," Baquet said. "This is a rare and unprecedented situation for the Peace Corps and our sincere hope is that we find this young man soon."
The Peace Corps recently offered a reward for information that assists the investigation and has placed advertisements with his photograph on Bolivian television and radio stations and in newspapers around the country. The investigation also includes the questioning of Poirier's neighbors, community members, colleagues, friends, fellow Peace Corps volunteers and associates, in addition to taxi and bus drivers. Today, a video of the Poirier family, produced by the Peace Corps, will begin broadcasting on Bolivian television in a mass-media campaign to continue public involvement.
Poirier was helping to develop ecotourism in the Zongo Valley, an area populated by several communities located two hours from the capital city of La Paz, Bolivia, before his disappearance last month. He has been a volunteer since August 2000.