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Brazilian Federal Police Seizes Record Cocaine Amount in Rio de Janeiro

Brazilian Federal Police Seizes Record Cocaine Amount in Rio de Janeiro

By Taciana Moury/Diálogo
February 03, 2021

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The Brazilian Federal Police (PF, in Portuguese) seized nearly 2.5 tons of cocaine hydrochloride, on December 1, 2020, in Duque de Caxias, Rio de Janeiro. According to the PF, this seizure was the largest ever conducted in the state and one of the largest in Brazil.

The PF received information about a criminal organization using a warehouse to store the drugs. Once the investigation identified suspicious vehicle traffic in the area, federal officers conducted the operation. The drugs were seized and sent to the PF in Rio de Janeiro, totaling 2.466 tons.

“At the scene, two men were arrested with two unregistered weapons, one pistol and a handgun, and a radio transceiver, all of which were seized,” said a PF statement.

One of the men, an off-duty military police officer, according to the police, was responsible for the location’s security. The other one, a 41-year old man, was inside the property with the drugs. The two men arrested were charged with drug trafficking and may serve up to 15 years in prison.

Operation White Sand

The day following the historical seizure in Rio de Janeiro, the PF launched Operation White Sand (Operação Areia Branca). The operation, which began on December 2, aimed to dismantle a criminal organization engaging in international drug trafficking and money laundering.

According to the PF, a total of five arrest warrants and 19 search and seizure warrants were conducted in the cities of Corumbá and Campo Grande, in Mato Grosso do Sul; and Vitória, Serra, and Itapemirim, in Espírito Santo. In addition, authorities seized more than $2 million in real estate and other assets belonging to the criminal group. The 5th Federal Court of Campo Grande issued the warrants.

The 2018 investigations identified that an international drug trafficker, then one of the six most wanted narcotraffickers in Brazil, was operating from Bolivia and coordinating to smuggle some 3 tons of cocaine per month to Brazil, from the Bolivian Chapare region. The main suspect and his wife were found and arrested as a result of the investigation.

According to the PF, the investigations concluded that the drug arrived in Brazilian territory via small planes, and was later transported in trucks to the country’s inner cities. The cocaine bound for Europe was illegally loaded inside cargo ships at Brazilian ports.