Marijuana Destroyed in Operation Searching for Armed Group in Paraguay

By Dialogo
February 10, 2009

Joint Paraguayan military and police forces deployed four weeks ago in central and northeastern Paraguay ‎in pursuit of an armed group destroyed 8,900 kilos of marijuana and 400 hectares of the drug, Interior ‎Minister Rafael Filizzola announced today.‎ The operation, which focuses on the department of San Pedro, center, and also covers Concepción and ‎Canindeyú, both on the border of Brazil, has increased “the presence of the State” in those regions, said ‎Filizzola.‎ At a press conference, the minister said that the 8,900 kilos of apprehended marijuana amount to a loss of ‎‎89,000 dollars to the traffickers and the damage of 400 hectares to 12 million dollars, in addition to the ‎confiscation of firearms and 13 vehicles and the destruction of 15 camps and the equipment used to press ‎the grass.‎ Filizzola, who accompanied President Fernando Lugo in his weekly press conference today, said that a ‎total of 15 houses were raided and that 32 people were arrested, many of them with outstanding warrants ‎for various crimes.‎ These operations were performed as part of the investigations opened after the attack perpetrated by a ‎group called the Army of the Paraguayan People (EPP) at a military post guarded by one of three soldiers ‎assigned to a detachment in Tacuatí, in San Pedro.‎ The armed group attacked the military post on the night of December 31, and fled after setting fire to the ‎area. They stole two machine guns, two magazines with 90 projectiles, uniforms, and bulletproof vests.‎ In San Pedro and Canindeyú, as well as other regions that border with Brazil, organizations operate ‎dedicated to marijuana cultivation, cocaine trafficking, vehicle theft, and smuggling.‎ Last Sunday, customs officials, assisted by police, seized 7,000 cartons of cigarettes from an illegal ‎warehouse located in Pindoty Porá, in Canindeyú, on the border of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do ‎Sul.‎ Seven large trucks used to transfer the cargo to Asunción were also seized.‎ ‎ “One of the most noticeable parts of our government’s fight against crime is the confiscation of the ‎cigarette shipment waiting to cross the border to be illegally traded in Brazil,” said Lugo in a press ‎conference.‎ The President said that rather than the market value of the merchandise, which is estimated at 600,000 ‎dollars, “the most important thing to note is that with renewed forces, we will choke the breath of those ‎who want to use the borders for their illegal activities.”‎ ‎ “Everybody knew about such illicit activities and until now nothing has been done to stop them because ‎of the complicity of authorities and border officials,” said Lugo.‎