FARC trafficking drugs in Brazil, officials say

The Brazilian military is taking an active approach to quell FARC activities. (Antonio Scorza/AFP/Getty Images)

The Brazilian military is taking an active approach to quell FARC activities. (Antonio Scorza/AFP/Getty Images)

By Nelza Oliveira for Infosurhoy.com — 07/06/2010

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – The apprehension of José Samuel Sánchez last month in the Brazilian state of Amazonas proved the country is being used by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for drug trafficking. Sánchez, who goes by the aliases “Martín Ávila” or “Tatareto,” is a suspected drug trafficker who also assists in the notorious group’s logistics and financial planning, officials say.

Federal police arrested Sánchez and seven other suspected FARC members – four Brazilians and three Colombians – and seized 45 kilograms (99 pounds) of cocaine during the Solimões Route Operation along the river with the same name.

Sánchez had an import/export fish company and is suspected of using boats to transport cocaine from Colombia to Brazil by stuffing it inside fish carcasses, officials said.

“I think this is the first time [or] one of the first times we are sure that a FARC member is trafficking drugs in the national territory,” says chief of police Sérgio Fontes, superintendent of the Federal Police in the Amazon state.

But Brazilian drug barons doing business with the FARC is nothing new, Brazilian officials say.

Luiz Fernando da Costa, known as Fernandinho Beira-Mar and considered one of the largest traffickers of weapons and drugs in Latin America, was arrested in 2001 by the Colombian Army, who suspected him of trading weapons to guerrillas for cocaine.

In 2002, Leonardo Dias Mendonça, then-considered Brazil’s largest drug dealer, was arrested and accused of the same crime as Beira-Mar.

In Colombia, all of the cartels pay protection fees to the FARC, the guerrilla organization National Liberation Army (ELN) or to right-wing paramilitary groups, Fontes says.

Sánchez had a well-organized syndicate in Brazil, where he had been working for at least four years, Fontes says.

Sánchez had a ranch near Manaus – the capital city of the state of Amazonas – where he would separate and distribute narcotics and where two radios used to contact the FARC were found.

“That method allows us to say that great amounts of drugs were brought to Brazil and that the shipments were constant,” Fontes says.

But being a member of the FARC is not a crime in Brazil.

“What happened here is there was a criminal organization dedicated to drug trafficking, whose leader happens to be a FARC member,” Fontes says.

The Brazilian Intelligence Agency (Abin) said it has been following the FARC’s actions domestically since 2008. Abin sends its reports on the FARC to law enforcement or military officials in charge of the potentially compromised area.

Abin officials said they have evidence the FARC is running drugs through the state of Amazonas, where they also are suspected of money laundering. Abin officials also allege the FARC uses narcotics to trade for food and other goods.

Abin said the FARC’s presence in Brazil may be a result of the push by Colombian President Álvaro Uribe to quell the guerrilla group’s presence in the Andean nation, driving them across the border.

Abin said it is working with international agencies to keep track of the FARC’s activities, especially in the state of Amazonas.

The National Public Security Force has helped the state police of Amazonas and the Federal Police to monitor the borders in Northern Brazil since Dec. 14. They will continue working in the region for 90 more days after having scored a major victory by arresting Sánchez.

The National Public Security Force was created in 2005 by the federal government under the Ministry of Justice. It is formed by 8,000 elite police officers from different Brazilian states who participate in national security operations.

The Amazon Protected Program, which is supervised by the Brazilian Army, wants to create 28 special border units, better equip the 21 existing ones and strengthen the overall operation by 2030.

But the FARC isn’t the only ruthless gang operating in Brazil, officials say. Paraguayan government officials said they have information the FARC teaches its techniques to members of the armed leftist group Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP), according to the Brazilian magazine Época. The magazine also reported the FARC is teaching EPP members to execute robberies and kidnappings to generate money.

The EPP is suspected of committing crimes since at least 2000, including the kidnapping and murder of Cecilia Cubas, the daughter of former Paraguayan president Raúl Cubas, in 2004.

There also is strong evidence the EPP was behind a March 29 attack that left Paraguayan Sen. Robert Acevedo injured and two of his advisors dead, according to Época. Brazilian criminal group First Command of the Capital (PCC) also is suspected of having participated in the attack, according to Época.

Even Europe has found evidence of FARC’s activities. Spanish judge Eloy Velasco stated in a writ the FARC and the Basque separatist terrorist group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) have conspired to form assassination plots to kill Colombian officials in Spain.

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  • aglae | 2011-03-16

    I wish Brazilian drugs to come to an end and the ombudsman is able to take all crooked police officers out of the streets who infiltrate in the police so to hinder the performance of those police officers interested in improving Brazil. I just loved this report. Congratulations, here in the city of Frutal, Minas Gerais state, we're living one of the greatest terrors of this time, the drugs. I really want you to clean up this place, after all when the police here have changed and there's justice then evil shall come to an end.

  • maria libretad | 2011-02-27

    I want to work with 5 year old children I love them I am good affectionate with children I have many children's toys I love children

  • armando | 2011-02-04

    How can it be that FARC is selling cocaine in Brazil in other words, there are no import controls

  • | 2011-01-05

    Brazilians like cocaine, partying, dancing, caipirinha and soccer just like the rest of the South Americans. They have to think about how to resolve the issue of poverty... and not use cocaine and maybe this way the FARC wouldn't sell it to them or even cross the border.

  • Waldo | 2011-01-01

    The Chilean descendants (oyarzún Correa) of Salvador Correa Saa, three-time governor of Rio de Janeiro and discoverer of Minas Gerais of Brazil, send affectionate regards to the new president of the Brazilian government, Dilma Rousseff.

  • Gervasio Barros de Mello | 2010-12-21

    I did not vote in Dilma, but by my estimates she will change much that Lula failed to change, including the relationship of complicity with archaic regimes and with no future in the global scenary. What happened in the German Hill(Rio) serves as an example. What has not been good for Brazil,nor will be for it in the next future.

  • Alberto Felske | 2010-12-17

    Recently the Rio de Janeiro police, with help from our glorious Armed Forces, has occupied two important areas for drug trafficking in that city. A praiseworthy, necessary action to protect national security, I believe. However, by reading the above news, I come to the conclusion that to control, or even isolate drug trafficking in our country, our Armed Forces should use the same strategy used in Rio de Janeiro with support, equipment and training from the Federal Government, in order to perform an intelligence sweep of these intruders who are not revolutionaries but bandits disguised as good faith leftists.

  • pablo junior | 2010-12-12

    my god what is the forerun in rio de janeiro and surprisingly soon that Brazil is a country more beautiful as we are all hoping that the situation there better and better for all of that right

  • Ruimar Garcia | 2010-12-11

    I strongly agree with Godsey, someone connected to the presidency should warn her because the trafficking at the border is absurd. Ruimar

  • maria ignes cardoso favaro | 2010-12-11

    hello...hello...regiane, I heard your message through Radio Tâmara in the show ‘Direito do Cidadão’, which is excellent and I wrote down your blog .Congratulations, participate always and it would be ideal if you participate in the show ‘Programa do Nacir’, it would enrich the show a lot if there were regular political comments. To summarize, I liked the comment. Come and visit us, we decorated our house with recycled x-mas adornments. This excuse of not having Money to adorn the city is a lie for those Who are not creative. Maria Ignes

  • JULIO CESAR PALOMBO | 2010-12-06


  • Ralder Frugoli Peixoto | 2010-12-03

    This comment is in Portuguese. Please forward to the Portuguese translator.

  • maria isabel santos da silva | 2010-12-02

    Congratulations, finally they did something on the slum and they’re doing something also on the AMAZON, and it was about time, finally the governments took action, and are not just buying planes, while the people are starving on the streets...........

  • Felicio Camargo | 2010-12-01

    Everything you write and say about drugs, arms and bandits, we already know. The biggest danger is to know that behing this shamefulness there are politicians, evangelical pastors, governors and wives that made agreements with bandits to win the elections in Brazil. Only those involved with those bastards, killers of innocents, who do anything for Power and greed don’t see it. The government spends a fortune on those inmates in prison; they travel by plane here and there, with rights to TV, breakfast and special medical examination upon arrival and departure, to make sure they arrive in good health. In China, whether the prisoners are politicians or NOT, they are beaten with rods in front of the people, and bandits, drug dealers and murderers get a death sentence, What can we do if the Powers that be don't allow the legislation work.

  • ricardo | 2010-11-28

    I found it great

  • jork | 2010-11-28

    But if the governments know about it why haven't they activated joint fronts to fight them I think there's a lot of demagoguery that leads nowhere and I invite the governments involved in the abuses of these terrorist groups to fight them without mercy and finish them off once and for all.

  • J.C. Mendes da Silva | 2010-10-28

    Sirs/Madams, I think it's absurd that the current government does not make the problem widely known to the public, which involves us all. We have to react by all means possible and imaginable and violently in such a deaf and silent way against those enemies that dwell among us and most of the times are supported by our own countrymen. The perfect action against those subjects is EXTERMINATION! jc

  • hildebrando filho | 2010-10-28

    As long as the government does not really invest in the Brazilian military, we won't have a true sovereign country and a protected Amazon. It's time for the military to face off against the government and show that they are an army that wants a strong and sovereign Brazil. THE AMAZON IS OURS!!!

  • jose maria stos | 2010-10-25

    From my point of view, it's something very hard to give an opinion about, the merits of Colombia growing marijuana a source of income, and if they don't have a way to legally distribute such product, the rest of the nations don't offer any other alternative subsistence to export, the evil just tends to grow.

  • davi | 2010-10-25

    Tell me who you like and I'll tell you who you are. I'm a fan of dictator Fidel, of the crazy Hugo Chávez, of the insane Almadnejad. Do I have to tell who I am? Of course, I'm the Workers Party (PT) leader in Brazil. Brazilian people, wake up while there's time!

  • Guillermo | 2010-10-23

    I am truly convinced that the Brazilians will come down hard on this plague.

  • play&Marly_rafaela & Matheus | 2010-10-23

    Good morning friends, drugs have taken over the world and it's massacring our youth, drug dealers use children aging from 12 to 17 for distribution. The police can't apprehend underage offenders, my nephew was caught with a marijuana cigarette and got 3 years and 8 months in prison, today two more articles were incorporated into Brazilian law, which are articles 33 and 35... I'd like to know about those two articles, can somebody help me???

  • Marcelo | 2010-10-22


  • Valdemar | 2010-10-16

    What country is that, who pampers a cancer called \"Paraguay\", such cancer that undermines large Brazilian cities: - enhancing violence (weapons smuggling), - multiplying the offer of smuggled goods (low quality goods of doubtful source), - exposing its youth to drugs (none doubt that most of it gets trough Paraguay), - giving shelter to justice debtors and a series of other related losses. My question is: Do we, Brazilians or those living here, really need that? Simple but efficient solution: implode the “smuggling bridge". The USA, for less serious reasons, have erected a wall along the border of a troublesome neighbor.

  • JUAN CARLOS | 2010-10-14

    Chavez is a the biggest guerrilla on the continent, he supports all the terrorists groups in America and now the ETA, how sad that Venezuela has that kind of president.

  • cesar | 2010-10-14

    It's been well-proven that the current government has connections with the FARC for a long time as they're part of the same project of communism and dominance of Latin America.

  • Gabriel | 2010-10-08

    We have to attack those terrorists for real, we have to do our share.

  • caroline | 2010-10-07

    I’m a girl who is suffering very much, but I count on your help to make me happy.

  • GODSEY | 2010-10-07


  • josejorgecazevedo | 2010-10-06

    I’m always in touch with the personal office of the illustrious president of the Republic of Brazil, Luis I. L. da Silva, and I always ask him that, as a supreme commander of Brazil’s military to pressure the army’s high command to take effective measures against the FARC together with ABIN. I know there’s some resistance from high ranked officials to fight the drugs retail and wholesale in the big cities and they only deploy the army to the borders without connection with federal and state polices. I have some secret e-mails with President LULA’s office where I’ve arranged some fruitful meetings with the DEFENSE Minister Nelson Jobim, the federal police command and Brazilian Army Central Intelligence, earlier they would only speak on certain occasions, now a structure is being assembled for specific information of FARC’s activities within national territory, it seems to me with the Office for Institutional Security (GSI-PR), rest assured FARC will try but won’t succeed in getting established here in BRAZIL. A lot has been done that the Brazilian Army doesn’t announce publicly. Even the Special Operations Brigade has embraced this fight against FARC, in the AMAZON MILITARY COMMAND THERE ARE ABOUT 539 TROOPS READY FOR SWIFT ACTION in order to battle the FARC in rivers and borders of the Amazon. And now the number of choppers in the region will triple.

  • ABRAÃO GOMES DOS SANTOS | 2010-10-06

    I’m proud to be Brazilian and to be a reserve soldier of this army that honors us with its tenacity, creating those border platoons in the name of sovereignty and citizenship is praiseworthy. May God protect all of us.

  • sonia nogueira pacheco | 2010-09-26

    As a Brazilian, I'm proud to see our army act with such efficiency. Excellent report.

  • Olivio Mario Miglióli | 2010-09-20

    Dear reader friends. Look, the drugs are coming from Colombia, Venezuela and Paraguay, nobody ignores that. The weapons in the hands of traffickers and bandits in Rio, São Paulo, Recife, Bahia and all over Brazil have indeed come in through the Paraguayan border. For those who doubt it, just go there and check for yourself. I've been to Paraguay a few days ago. As I arrived, I was intercepted by many traffickers offering me weapons, marijuana, cocaine and crack cocaine. I bought a portable computer, I also bought some bottles of perfume. My wife bought a set of stainless steel pans and a digital camera. That was it. But, as we returned, I was surprised at the customs checkpoint, they didn't search me. There was another guy in front of me that had three other people with him and each had a car tire. And I kept watching, nobody was checked (verified). That's how it comes in through the border even through customs, drugs, weapons and all types of subversion. It's unbelievable there isn't someone very powerful behind all that smuggling. It's time to put an end to that, at any cost, because it's not possible that the good Brazilians get trapped in their homes while traffickers and bandits are free to roam the streets and neighborhoods of our city. The time is now, let's demand stronger action from the authorities in order to prevent this and put an end, for good, to the smuggling of drugs and weapons into Brazil with the acquiescence and connivance of authorities, who for ignorance or laziness fail to perform a verification for real on the border and on the bridge of "FRIENDSHIP", which, by the way, has nothing friendly about it. Let's name it BRIDGE OF RUINATION, OF DRUGS, OF SMUGGLING, BRIDGE OF THE BORDERLESS TRAFFICKERS. AND LONG LIVE THE FREEDOM AND SELF INDULGENCE OF MANY

  • carmen | 2010-09-20

    Thank God we're free to know what is happening. I give the highest marks to this report. It unveils something very serious. 28498

  • José Carlos | 2010-09-18

    It's not a "following like sheep" attitude, the behavior of our army makes us proud to be Brazilian.

  • Vitor Medeiros | 2010-09-17

    I've already been to the Amazon and know how dear and defended it is by its native folks - to which we owe the most herculean force against those who, since the times of Vicente Yañes Pinzón (Spanish navigator that named our beloved Amazon river as "Mar Dulce"), wish to take possession of our Hylean Amazon. It is known that countless spies of all foreign nations disguised as "missionaries, biologists, priests, pastors, friends of the forest/river people" teach them odd languages, giving them radios syntonized in transmitters that direct to programs specially produced for the Amazon native people, to the point that our Indians can speak German, English, Russian, without knowing their mother tongue. The FARC, we know better, invade our border to supply their troops, steal and rob even army border stations and platoons, to exploit gold mines and other incursions with the purpose of trafficking drugs, fish, wood and other resources they need, including recruiting young people to their guerrillas. Where are the republic powers to stop this coward and cynic invasion? Where are the citizen forces of this so dignified nation and country! Amen!

  • damian | 2010-09-16

    how sad!!!