Drug Smuggling Gang Detained in Brazil

By Dialogo
June 06, 2013

The Brazilian Police dismantled a drug trafficking and money laundering gang based in Brazil, which had links to Portugal and Colombia, and smuggled cocaine to Europe hidden in frozen fish, the prosecution said on June 4.

Brazilian authorities reported 17 individuals were involved, of which 10 were arrested, according to the Federal Police.

Two Portuguese, three Spanish and three Colombian citizens were part of the gang, according to a police statement. A Portuguese man and a Spanish man were detained in Switzerland, while a Colombian trafficker was killed two weeks ago in Panama, the Police stated.

One of the individuals under investigation is Colombian national Alexander Pareja, accused of money laundering drug money.

Pareja, who was living in Rio de Janeiro and was briefly detained in 2007, was accused of converting drug trafficking resources into illicit assets by purchasing real estate, gas stations, and a construction company, according to the prosecution.

Henry Alejandro Rodríguez Gallego, aka “el Negro” and Pareja’s brother-in-law, are accused of being part of the drug trafficking gang which has presumably shipped at least two cargos of cocaine hidden in fish and ice to Portugal by air, with Spain as the final destination.

The drug arrived in Brazil from Bolivia and Colombia, and was shipped to Europe mixed with industrial ice in gel form.

“In order to find that first shipment, we followed the group for eight months,” Paulo Teles, commissioner responsible for the operation told the press in Rio.

The arrests started on May 31 and continued until the operation was completed on June 4.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), as well as the Portuguese, Colombian, Uruguayan, and Spanish counter drug police – the latter being the one that reported this situation initially – collaborated directly in the investigation, which resulted in operation “United Nations,” a reference to the number of countries that participated.

Seized property assets are valued at 5 million dollars, include two gas stations, residential property, commercial real estate and shares in other companies, the Federal Police said.