Operation Agatha Brings Brazil and Colombia Together

By Dialogo
August 15, 2011

During the month of August, the Brazilian Defense Ministry is conducting a joint operation by the Brazilian Armed Forces, within the framework of the Strategic Border Plan. Operation Agatha, supported by other federal and state agencies, seeks to combat transborder and environmental crimes along the borders of the Western Amazon region, and includes Colombian participation this year.

At a press conference, General Mattos declared that the greatest challenges of operations in border regions are logistics and command and control, something that applies equally to Operation Agatha. According to Mattos, results are being achieved with regard to preventing transborder and environmental crimes and organized crime. The general also said that the same effort being put into the operation in Brazil is being put forward by the Colombian Armed Forces on the other side of the border.

Vice Admiral Frade, however, highlighted the difficulties faced by the population living in the border regions, especially in the area of health care. For that reason, he emphasized the importance of the civic and social services provided by the Brazilian Navy in areas along the rivers, through its “Hope Ships,” as its hospital ships are known.

Brazilian Air Force resources were deployed on a larger scale to São Gabriel da Cachoeira and Tabatinga, increasing the presence of the state along the border, according to Colonel Machado.

Federal Police Superintendent Sérgio Lúcio commented that during the preparatory phase of Operation Agatha, he received support from the Brazilian Navy in seizing 300 kg of cocaine. “The support we are receiving from the Armed Forces is fundamental for inspecting and shutting down illegal mining camps, among other Federal Police activities along the border,” the superintendent said.

On 7 August, a raft carrying a cargo of ornamental fish was stopped by the hospital ship Oswaldo Cruz, which is subordinate to the 9th Naval District Command. Through Operation Agatha, contact was made with a team from the Brazilian Environment Institute (IBAMA), which traveled to the location to establish the illegal nature of the merchandise.

According to the IBAMA regional superintendent, joint operations with other agencies and with the Armed Forces serve to add dynamism to IBAMA’s activities in the fight against unauthorized mining camps, irregular timber extraction, and illegal fishing for ornamental fish and other species that are common in the region and have enormous commercial value abroad.