PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil – The Ministry of Justice wants to expedite the destruction of drugs seized by police throughout the country.
The proposal would require all confiscated narcotics be incinerated within 10 days of the completion of all chemical analysis reports.
Currently, there is no timeframe in place for the destruction of drugs confiscated by the authorities. The existing legislation must be modified in order for the proposal to be put into practice.
In December 2011, the Ministry of Justice introduced Bill 2902/2011, which would alter Brazil’s Penal Code.
The bill has been prioritized by the House of Representatives and is being evaluated by the committees specializing in Public Safety and Combating Organized Crime; Constitution, Justice and Citizenship.
“It’s an extremely important measure from a public safety policy standpoint and for all authorities involved in combating organized crime,” says Marivaldo Pereira, the secretary of Legislative Affairs at the Ministry of Justice. “Shelving this bill would be a big risk.”
The current law requires immediate destruction only of drug crops. The incineration of all other seized drugs is determined at the state level. If the bill is approved, the timelines for destroying confiscated narcotics would be the same nationwide.
The measure will reduce the likelihood of criminals’ coming into possession of the seized narcotics and putting them back on the streets.
There were four attempts to steal seized weapons and narcotics in Ceará last month alone, according to the state’s Association of Magistrates.
The criminals attacked courthouses in the interior of the state. In one case, they made off with pirated CDs and DVDs.
Given that the seizure rates for pirated, contraband and falsified products has tripled the past six years, according to the National Council to Combat Piracy, delaying destruction could lead to new crimes.
In 2010 alone, R$1.27 billion (US$740 million) in merchandise was seized, according to the “Brasil Original” Report issued by the Ministry of Justice.
Measure to streamline the sale of goods
The government also wants to accelerate the sale of assets related to the drug trade. Bill 2902/11 proposes the sale of assets belonging to defendants who are brought to trial.
Currently, when an asset is seized due to an alleged criminal act, it is held in a judicial depot or on police premises, awaiting the outcome of the proceedings.
“This bill stipulates that upon seizure, if there is a risk of deterioration, the judge can immediately put the asset up for auction,” Pereira says.
The value of the sale is deposited in a bank account, which is adjusted for inflation. At the end of the process, if the defendant is acquitted, he or she can access the money. If the defendant is found guilty, the asset is lost and the government keeps the money.
The value of assets seized in recent years has reached R$2.2 billion (US$1.28 billion), according to the National Council of Justice (CNJ). With this proposal, the Ministry of Justice is seeking to avoid losing the market value of these assets. For example, a car held for five years could lose up to 50% of its value, Pereira points out.
In 2011, authorities in Amazonas and Mato Grosso already received airplanes that had been used by drug traffickers. The aircraft are now being used to fight crime, in an initiative led by the CNJ.
The Ministry of Justice’s proposal could also contribute toward economizing public resources, since the government would be able to reduce the amount of money spent to store goods.
The Ministry of Justice says it expects the law will come into effect later this year.
“There is a significant consensus regarding the proposal, which has been debated by a range of sectors,” Pereira says. “Due to the importance of the issue and the low levels of disagreement, we believe that the law will be approved before the end of the year.”