New River Base and National Force Agents Strengthen Fight Against Crimes in Brazil’s Amazonas
By Andréa Barretto/Diálogo November 18, 2020
In two months of work, Brazilian police officers and military personnel from Arpão Base have seized drugs and other goods with an estimated value of about $900,000. Cocaine and coca base paste, marijuana, live turtles, and reptile eggs were some of the items seized.
Arpão Base is a new project, launched during the second half of 2020 to integrate a series of measures to combat criminal activities on rivers of Amazonas state. The base is a 24-hour vessel, from which 65 police officers and service members from the Brazilian Army operate on rotating shifts. They monitor ships that pass by, inspecting those that seem suspicious.
“Eighty percent of the crimes that happen in the capital [Manaus] are associated with drug trafficking, and that is why it’s necessary that we decisively combat not only drug trafficking, but also piracy, illegal exploitation of the environment, and other illicit activities that occur because of the extent of our rivers and forests,” said Wilson Lima, Amazonas governor.
The base is docked at the channel of the Solimões River. The river starts in Peru and enters Brazil as one of the main tributaries of the Amazon River. “We positioned Arpão Base in the busy middle stretch of Solimões River to intercept a lot of drug trafficking activities and problems related to environmental crimes and piracy,” said Eduardo Bettini, general border coordinator of the Brazilian Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MJSP, in Portuguese).
The agents also carry out patrols looking for criminal activities on the river and its riverbanks. It is common in this region for so-called river pirates, groups that attack ships, to take various kinds of goods. Security forces use two armored speedboats for their operations, which provide transport for the teams.
Bettini also said that the base includes a new radio and digital communication system that the MJSP is installing in Amazonas. This technology is the same used by the Integrated Border Monitoring System, enabling safe communication and information exchanges between military and public security organizations.
In Amazonas, the fight against crime was also strengthened with the deployment of additional units from the National Public Security Force to the state. The Brazilian National Force is made up of police officers from all over Brazil, who are deployed by the federal government at the request of state governments. In early August, police arrived in Amazonas and on September 1, their stay was renewed until December 30, 2020.
During this period, agents work to curb the wave of violence in the surrounding cities of Manaus, where more than seven murders, including that of police officers, happened between August and September. According to the police, the crimes are linked to a narcotrafficking organization in the region.