Marijuana Destroyed in Operation Searching for Armed Group in Paraguay
By Dialogo February 10, 2009Joint 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.