Brazil Intensifies Anti-Drug Pursuit on Borders

By Dialogo
August 29, 2012

Brazil is suffering a side effect of economic prosperity: an increase in the consumption of cocaine and its derivatives, resulting in Brazil intensifying its efforts to pursue drug traffickers around its borders in order to limit the entrance of drugs from Bolivia, Peru and Colombia.

While the debate over drug legalization continues to intensify in the region, Dilma Rousseff’s government embarked on a new military and police strategy to pursue drug traffickers, limit their vast territory and penetrate into the regions, counties and cities, where small and medium-range traffickers crowd prisons.

“Our country is growing economically; it has greater purchasing power, which increased drug consumption. Sixty percent of the population and 75% of Brazil’s GDP is concentrated in southern and southeastern Brazil, and this is where most of the cocaine is being consumed,” said Oslain Santana, head of the Police Force’s organized crime division to AFP.

The plan against drugs, which combines a heavy hand against trafficking with medical attention to dependents, involves joint actions between the police forces of Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay, and soon, Venezuela.

Cooperation is protected by bilateral agreements regarding the exchange of information, financing of programs, and having Brazilian observers join in the work of eradicating illegal crops in neighboring territories.

“Affecting the sovereignty (of neighbors) is not the intention, we just want cooperation. It may be that crime knows no boundaries, but the police do,” the head of police said in an explanation regarding the reports that armed Brazilian agents are participating in anti-drug operations on Peruvian soil.

In June 2011, President Rousseff launched a strategic plan that provided periodic border mobilization of military troops backed by armored vehicles, aircraft and boats, in order to surprise smugglers red handed.

In total, 3,500 police, – 1,000 more than a year ago – supported drug trafficking pursuits from the borders to the streets and favelas.

Operation Ágata 5 concluded this week on the borders between Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay, an area of about 2,423 miles, which involved 17,000 troops.

Troops detained 31 people and seized six tons of drugs in 15 days, according to the Brazilian Ministry of Defense. In 2011, the Federal Police seized 24 tons of cocaine, compared to 27 tons in 2010.