Brazilian and Paraguayan Police Forces Dismantle Drug Trafficking Networks
By Francisco Pereira/Diálogo November 30, 2016On November 4th, the Federal Police of Brazil, in cooperation with the Paraguayan Police, engaged in one of the largest counter drug trafficking operations in recent years in the two countries. Operation Cavalo Doido (Crazy Horse) was named after the way the group transported drugs. According to Brazilian police officers, the criminals would remove the seats and everything else from inside cars to open space for the drugs. They would then speed off, disregarding traffic signs and police checkpoints, to get to their destination as quickly as possible. The groups operated in Paraguay and distributed the drugs in the Brazilian states of Pará, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goiás, and the Federal District. The operation seized more than 10 tons of drugs, weapons, and luxury cars. In addition, more than 30 arrest warrants were issued. The Federal Police enforced 81 court orders, with 21 protective custody warrants, 11 temporary custody warrants, 15 bench warrants (when a judge orders that an offender be apprehended), and 34 search-and-seizure warrants. “Sharing information with Brazil's special police force and monitoring the actions in strategic border towns enabled this organization to be dismantled. There are 200 police officers working in conjunction with the Paraguayan Police on this operation, which is breaking up drug trafficking groups and networks in both countries,” said Colonel Hugo Vera, head of the National Drug Secretariat in Paraguay In July, Operation Nova Aliança (New Alliance), a cooperative effort between the police forces of the two bordering countries, resulted in the destruction of 162 hectares of marijuana crops, in addition to the burning of 67,000 kilograms of the plant that were ready to be sold on the border between the two countries. During the operation, 103 camps, 38 presses, and 350 kilograms of seeds used for growing cannabis were also destroyed. Brazilian Minister of Justice Alexandre de Moraes stated that one of the Brazilian government's priorities is to combat transnational crime. According to Moraes, the operation “is much more efficient for us to be able to eradicate drugs still in the growing phase and to keep them from being sold in Brazil, the source of over half of that production.” Operation Argus Police forces in Brazil and Paraguay also engaged in a parallel operation on November 4th to break up a transportation network that operates on the border between the two countries. The focus of Operation Argus, whose name alludes to a story from Greek mythology, was the state of Rio Grande do Sul. In a joint investigation lasting more than a year, the Federal Police found a group of 15 to 20 truckers and a trucking company set up as a front in Porto Alegre, the state capital of Rio Grande do Sul. According to the investigation, the ghost company would hire independent drivers to transport a variety of products, from soy and corn to home appliances, and bring up to 400 kilos of cocaine a month from the border with Paraguay to Rio Grande do Sul. The leader of the group was a prominent businessman from the region, who owned properties in the municipality of Viamão, as well as in Rio Grande do Sul, where the drugs were stored. The businessman appeared as owner of the trucks. The investigation found that the vehicles were bought by the trafficker, used to transport drugs two or three times, and then sold. The drugs were made in Peru and Bolivia and stored in Paraguay, where one of the largest drug traffickers in South America, Jarvis Chimenes Pavão, was still managing trade along the border with Mato Grosso do Sul despite having been arrested in Paraguay. From there, trucks departed with the drugs hidden in secret compartments toward the district of Águas Claras in Viamão. In the greater metropolitan area, another criminal gang was in charge of driving the drugs in shipments of 20 to 30 kilograms to the Valley of Rio dos Sinos and the Valley of Taquari, also in Rio Grande do Sul. Arrest warrants were issued not only for the owner of the front company, which was used to launder money from international trafficking, but also for another 23 people. According to Roger Soares Cardoso, police chief in charge of Operation Argus, more important than the arrests was the confiscation of an estimated $6 million from the seizure of 13 properties, 23 trucks, 20 vehicles, and the freezing of the accounts of 27 people. “Arrests don't solve the problem because 100 percent of them will go back to trafficking. More significant are the seizures because they weaken the criminal organization's financial power, and that, really, is able to dismantle the gang,” Chief Cardoso said. Cooperation against drug trafficking Brazil and Paraguay rely on a well-established cooperation to fight drug trafficking, a common problem faced by both nations. Cooperation is the only path to ending the problem. According to the Federal Police of Brazil, 80 percent of the marijuana produced in Paraguay makes its way to Brazil. The two governments have worked together on matters of security and defense for more than six decades. International cooperation with friendly nations is a fundamental factor in the security strategies of both Brazil and Paraguay. Joint operations, in addition to training among forces and exchanging information, strengthen initiatives and projects aimed at eradicating drug trafficking in the region.