In early June, security forces of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay joined efforts to conduct Operation New Alliance in Amambay department, Paraguay. The operation seized more than 500 tons of marijuana and disrupted the flow of more than $5 million into organized crime.
The goal of the operation was to eradicate marijuana trafficking in the region, starting with activities at the onset of the criminal chain. This is the first time that Argentina joined a marijuana eradication effort in Paraguay. Argentina has become a major destination for the drug.
“This operation has two key aspects. The first one is cooperation between the three countries in the fight against narcotrafficking, and the second is the destruction of marijuana plantations, in close collaboration with Paraguay, so that the drug never reaches consumers,” Argentine Secretary of Security Eugenio Burzaco told Diálogo.
The operation was centered in the capital of Amambay, Pedro Juan Caballero, on the border with Brazil. The city, surrounded by jungle and marijuana plants, is known as a drug production center and trafficking with transnational criminal organizations, such as Comando Vermelho and the First Capital Command from Brazil, waging turf wars for territorial control.
“The drug owners are on the other side of the border. These agreements help us disarm organizations from both sides,” said Argentine Minister of Security Patricia Bullrich. “Seizing and burning drugs. That’s how we’ll build an Argentina free of narcotrafficking.”
According to the Paraguayan National Police, the power of criminal gangs has increased in recent years, and even exceeds that of the government in some places. Homicides and arms trafficking are some of the threats these groups create. The solution: to disrupt their funding by destroying marijuana plantations.
“We want to intensify action, now with Argentina’s interest in participating, arresting organization leaders, identifying and confiscating private property, seizing drugs and eradicating plantations, as just happened,” said to the press Brazilian Minister of Justice Sérgio Moro, when he overflew the area during the operation.
Conducted between Brazil and Paraguay several times a year since 2012, New Alliance’s last edition enabled the destruction of more than 170 hectares of marijuana crops and the seizure of more than 5 tons of harvested marijuana, as well as 70 kilograms of cannabis seeds. According to estimates, every hectare of marijuana destroyed means that 3 tons of the ready to be sold substance is removed from circulation.
According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2019 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Paraguay is the main producer of marijuana in the hemisphere. The report indicates that in 2018, the Counter Drug National Secretary (SENAD, in Spanish), a Paraguayan institution that fights against narcotrafficking, destroyed more than 900 tons of processed marijuana, and eradicated more than 1,200 hectares of marijuana plantations.
“This vitally important operation has been in progress for many years, with extremely positive results. There is no other way to confront transnational crime if we don’t work together,” said Maurício Valeixo, general director of the Brazilian Federal Police, which also takes part in the operation.
For SENAD Minister Arnaldo Giuzzio, the initiative between both nations is a solid pillar in the fight against narcotrafficking. “The operation enables us to advance more openly against criminal structures as we strengthen our bonds of cooperation.”