On November 4, agents of the Brazilian Federal Police (PF) and the Brazilian Federal Revenue made the largest seizure of drugs ever recorded in Pará state, and one of the largest in Brazilian ports. The operation took place in the Port of Vila do Conde, in Barcarena, where authorities seized nearly 3 tons of cocaine. Investigations indicated that the drug was bound for Sines, Portugal, and was hidden in a container, inside bags of soybean flour. The operation had the help of a sniffer dog.
Although the Port of Santos, in São Paulo state, the largest port in Latin America, still registers the highest drug movement in the country, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) indicated in an early July report, which coincides with PF data, that narcotrafficking is moving to smaller ports in the country. According to the PF, in the port of Belém, capital of Pará, which recorded no drug seizures between 2009 and 2018, authorities seized 1,462 kilograms of drugs in 2019 and 1,430 kg in 2021. In Vila do Conde, authorities found 1,871 kg in 2021, much less than the November 4 seizure.
“This was one of the largest seizures of cocaine in Brazilian ports. The action was the result of a continuous investigation that the institutions carried out. No one was arrested in this seizure, but a police investigation was opened to gather evidence that points to the authors of this crime,” the PF said in a statement.
The Pará-Portugal route
The Pará-Portugal route is already well known to federal security agencies in the region, as it is widely used to access Europe by waterway. On October 5, the PF carried out Operation Euterpe, with the aim of serving warrants in cities in Pará against international narcotrafficking. The operation was conducted with the participation of the Portuguese Judicial Police and the European Union law enforcement agency Europol, with the support of the Brazilian Federal Revenue. During the operation the PF served 22 search and seizure warrants, as part of an investigation into the exportation of 320 kg of cocaine seized in Portugal at the end of June.
The cocaine smuggled into Portugal was hidden in a large cargo of açai, also shipped via the Port of Vila do Conde. At the time, the Portuguese police arrested two people for international narcotrafficking from Paraíba state whom authorities caught in the act, when they attempted to receive the drugs. Europol cooperated with the PF and the Portuguese Judiciary Police to continue the investigations and dismantle the criminal group. Authorities arrested Marco Antônio Faria Júnior, who has businesses in Barcarena, and Nilson de Souza Castro Neto, known as Nilsinho, who described himself as a nutritionist on social networks and boasted a life of luxury and travel. A third person was arrested a week later while trying to return to Brazil.
“The search and seizure warrants served this morning [October 5] occurred at residences and businesses suspected of being part of a criminal group that takes large amounts of cocaine to Europe. Electronic devices and documents that can strengthen the investigation and indicate the possible participation of other people in the crimes were seized,” the PF said in a statement.
On October 7, a fourth person from Pará was arrested when he arrived at Tom Jobim international airport, in Rio de Janeiro, coming from Madrid, Spain. He was also a native of the municipality of Barcarena and was considered a fugitive, suspected of participating in a scheme to send cocaine mixed in a cargo of açai to Europe. When he disembarked, he presented his passport with the name of another Brazilian national. According to information from federal authorities, this person is Allan Carvalho Cardoso, 27, owner of the company A.C. Cardoso, registered as an exporter of açai.
According to Pará’s main newspaper, Liberal, the detainees and the suspects may be involved in a much larger scheme run by Ruben Oliveira, known as Xuxas, considered the biggest Portuguese drug dealer, and Sérgio Carvalho, known as Major Carvalho and the Brazilian Escobar, who was arrested in June in Budapest, capital of Hungary.