Brazilian Police Dismantles International Drug and Arms Trafficking Groups

Brazilian Police Dismantles International Drug and Arms Trafficking Groups

By Eduardo Szklarz/Diálogo
January 12, 2022

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In less than a week, the Brazilian Federal Police (PF, in Portuguese) dismantled two organizations involved in international drug trafficking and money laundering. On December 7, 2021, during Operation Geminus, agents disrupted a group that transported cocaine between Mato Grosso do Sul, which borders Bolivia and Paraguay, and Rio Grande do Sul.

“Federal police served 11 preventive detention warrants and 29 search and seizure warrants in the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and Mato Grosso do Sul,” the PF said in statement. “Court orders were also executed for the seizure of 52 properties and 70 vehicles, including cars, jet skis, trucks, trailers, and tractors, as well as to freeze funds in the bank accounts of the 33 individuals and legal entities involved,” the PF said.

The investigations, launched in August 2019, indicated that the criminal organization moved 5 tons of cocaine in one year. A family, established in the municipalities of Deodápolis, Mato Grosso do Sul, and Viamão, Rio Grande do Sul, led the gang using agribusiness and other formal activities as fronts to conceal drug money.

On December 11, 2021, the Brazilian Federal Police seized 481 kg of cocaine from a cargo exporting company in the municipality of Paranaguá, Paraná. (Photo: Brazilian Federal Police)

“The investigation showed that the drug was transported in trucks that left from the border of Mato Grosso do Sul and went to a rural property in Viamão, from where it was distributed to traffickers in Porto Alegre and Vale do Sinos,” the Brazilian news site G1 reported. The criminals would funnel the money through legitimate businesses, simulating services performed, such as cargo transportation, livestock farming, and machinery and equipment rental for construction. They also declared non-existent production of grains and acquired goods and real estate on behalf of third parties, said the PF.

Cocaine and weapons

On December 3, during Operation Green Rice, the PF dismantled another group that specialized in international drug and arms trafficking. Some 40 agents served 11 search and seizure warrants and four preventive detention warrants in the states of Paraná and Minas Gerais.

The investigation began in May 2021, based on the seizures of shipments of marijuana, cocaine, and weapons coming from Paraguay and bound for southeastern and northeastern states. “The group was linked with the trafficking of 5 tons of marijuana, 254 kilograms of cocaine, and 30 firearms,” said the PF.

The suspects had a fleet of about 50 vehicles, including trailers, pickup trucks, and passenger vehicles, most of them in the name of front companies. In order to avoid suspicion, vehicles often carried drugs and concealed weapons in loads of rice.

Clandestine ports

Between December 1-6, a team of federal and military police destroyed 15 clandestine ports located on the shores of Itaipu Lake, on the border with Paraguay. According to the PF, the ports were used for drug and arms trafficking, smuggling, and embezzlement.

“This was the fourth stage in recuperating these strategic points,” the PF said. According to the force, three other similar strategic operations were carried out in 2021 to dismantle criminal organizations in the region.