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Drug Seizures at Brazilian Borders Increase 260 Percent in 2021

Drug Seizures at Brazilian Borders Increase 260 Percent in 2021

By Nelza Oliveira/Diálogo
May 11, 2021

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Launched by the Brazilian Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MJSP, in Portuguese) in April 2019, the national border security program VIGIA recorded an increase of more than 260 percent in drug seizures in the first two months of 2021, compared to the same period in 2020. The program brings together border security agents, with support from the Brazilian Army, the Ministry of Defense, police agencies, and other departments.

VIGIA recorded seizures of 76.6 tons of drugs in January and February. During the same timeframe in 2020, the amount was 21 tons. In addition to the drugs, this year’s seizures consisted of 6.7 million packs of cigarettes, 358 vehicles, 27 vessels, 208 weapons, and 9.9 tons of pesticides, causing a loss of more than $39 million to criminals.

VIGIA provides training to Brazilian Federal Police officers, civilians, and service members who operate along the country’s borders. (Photo: Brazilian Ministry of Justice and Public Security)

“The program aims to protect the country against the entry of weapons, drugs, contraband, vehicles, and vessels. Some ways to achieve this include integrated operations, equipment purchases, training, and operational bases with system integration,” said Brazilian Military Police Lieutenant Colonel Saulo Sanson, MJSP border general manager.

The program receives support from Operation Horus, which operates at the country’s borders and crossing points, said Lt. Col. Sanson. There are ongoing operations in 15 states, with 700 professionals working directly on the program, in addition to professionals from the institutions and security forces involved.

“Communication towers that are being used by security agents who work with the VIGIA program were installed in 2020, with funds from auctioned narcotrafficking proceeds, coordinated by the National Anti-Drug Secretariat,” said Lt. Col. Sanson. “Additionally, two bases were opened to support the joint operations under VIGIA, in partnership with public security, defense, surveillance, and control forces from states and municipalities. One is in Amazonas and the other in Paraná,” he added.

 Since its launch, VIGIA has seized more than 800 tons of drugs, more than 100 million packs of cigarettes, more than 4,000 vehicles, more than 400 vessels, more than 22,000 cell phones, nearly 133 tons of pesticides, and 10,622 tires. About 70 percent of drug seizures consist of marijuana. The remaining is skunk, cocaine, and other narcotics.