Brazil: Military Occupies Nine Slums

By Dialogo
February 10, 2011

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – A force of about 1,000 military and law
enforcement agents took control of nine slums from narcotics traffickers on Feb. 6,
officials said.
The security force, which was backed by 21 vehicles, had little trouble
during their two-hour operation to free the slums from the grip of the narcotics
traffickers, officials said.
“The situation is calm and we have completed the first part of the operation
– controlling the territory,” said Col. Lima Castro, a military spokesman, according
to CBN radio.
Residents expressed gratitude.
“Thank God, the occupation took place peacefully and the community did not
suffer,” said Morro dos Prazeres favela neighborhood association Elisa Brandão,
according to O Globo newspaper.
José Mariano Beltram, the public security secretary of the state of Rio de
Janeiro, said he was pleased by the security forces’ work.
“The priority is to conquer the territory without having more stray bullets,
or dead and wounded civilians,” he said at a media conference, adding police and
military personnel did not fire a single bullet during the early morning operation.
Officials also said police and military personnel are conducting a month-long
search for weapons in an effort to make Rio’s slums safer. Police have occupied
slums that are home to a combined 26,000 residents.
The operation came three months after police and military personnel got rid
of narcotics traffickers in the Complexo do Alemão slum.

Colombian cartel targeted by U.S.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Twenty-three suspects have been charged
in connection with trafficking narcotics and money for Colombia’s North Valley
cartel throughout the Caribbean and the United States, U.S. federal authorities said
on Feb. 4.
The suspects allegedly smuggled Colombian cocaine into the United States.
They allegedly channeled the proceeds back to the cartel through deposits and
transfers that appeared legal, said Roberto Escobar Vargas, the special agent in
charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Homeland Security
Investigations in Puerto Rico, which headed the investigation.
The suspects are accused of laundering about US$3 million during the course
of a year, Escobar said, adding the cartel likely made a lot more money using its
associates throughout the Caribbean and the U.S., according to The
Associated Press.
Twenty-one of the suspects have been taken into custody in Colombia, Puerto
Rico, the Dominican Republic, New York, Miami and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The
suspects apprehended outside Puerto Rico will be extradited to the island to answer
to money laundering and narcotics charges, U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez said
at a news media conference.
The majority of those arrested are not high on the cartel’s hierarchy. But
authorities apprehended a man identified as Ricardo Betancourt Muñoz, who allegedly
is the primary money broker for the cartel’s operations in the Caribbean. Muñoz was
arrested in Colombia, officials said.

Paraguay: 58 kilograms of cocaine seized

ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay – The National Anti-Drug Secretariat (SENAD)
arrested four suspects in connection with the seizure of 58 kilograms (127 pounds)
of cocaine in an operation carried out in the city of Pedro Juan Caballero,
officials said on Feb. 6.
The narcotic was found in one of the three residences agents raided this past
weekend in the department of Amambay, which is on the Brazilian border.

Brazilians Marcelino Rojas Junior, 29 and the group’s alleged leader, Fabiano
Silva Cabalheiro, 24, were taken into custody, as were Paraguayans Absdan González,
21, and Gladys Andrea Duarte González, 27, according to the Argentine website
Law enforcement officials also confiscated nine motorcycles, two cars,
firearms and an unspecified amount of cash, officials said, according to

Argentina: 106 kilograms of marijuana seized

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – A Paraguayan woman and her partner, an
Argentine man, were arrested in the northern province of Formosa in connection with
the seizure of 106 kilograms (233 pounds) of marijuana, police said on Feb. 5.
The marijuana, stashed in the trunk, back seat and spare tire, was discovered
during a traffic stop near the Paraguayan border, law enforcement officials said in
a statement.

Guinea-Bissau creates counter-narcotics agency

BISSAU, Guinea-Bissau – The African nation formed a
counter-narcotics agency to stop South American-based traffickers from moving drugs
through the country en route to Europe, Justice Minister Mamadou Djalo Pires said.
“[Formation of the agency is] the result of cooperation and partnership
between the governments of Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia,”
he said, adding the agency also is supported by the United Nations Office on Drugs
and Crime (UNODC), according to Agence France-Presse.
The agency, to be comprised of 100 police officers, migration services, and
borders and customs agents, will be part of the Economic Community of West African
States’ (ECOWAS) mission to combat narcotics trafficking and organized crime.
The contract to establish the agency was ratified by the ministries of
justice, finance and interior of Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony. UNODC
said more than 40 tons of cocaine was trafficked through the nation from 2007 and
Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia already have established
counter-narcotics agencies.