Bolivian Villagers Punish Alleged Thieves With Fire Ants, Nearly Killing Them

Bolivian authorities say Amazon villagers nearly killed two young men with venomous ants, tying them to a tree swarming with the insects for allegedly stealing three motorcycles.

Dr. Roberto Paz told reporters Monday in Cochabamba that one of the men remained in intensive care while the other had required dialysis for kidney failure.

The venomous ants, of the pseudomyrmex triplarinus species, live in symbiosis with the triplaris tree variety. Their venom has anti-inflammatory properties and is used a traditional cure for arthritis.

A sister of one of the men told Radio Fides that villagers in Ayopaya held the two men, ages 18 and 19, for nearly three days, freeing them Saturday after relatives paid $3,700 as compensation for the motorcycles.

Otherwise, she said, the two would have been killed.

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