Units of the Paraguayan National Anti-Drug Secretariat (SENAD, in Spanish), Joint Task Force (FTC, in Spanish), and Air Force, together with the Brazilian Federal Police (PF, in Portuguese), carried out a joint operation that destroyed more than 800 tons of marijuana, SENAD said. Authorities carried out Operation New Alliance (Nueva Alianza) 29 in the Amambay region, near the Tri-border with Argentina and Brazil, February 23-March 4, state-run Agencia de Información Paraguaya reported.
On March 4, SENAD said on its social networks that the operations dismantled 83 narco camps and seized 9,095 kilograms of marijuana ready for consumption. Regarding the plantations, “the operational forces eradicated 281 hectares of marijuana crops, [and authorities] estimate that a total of at least 852 tons of marijuana were taken out of circulation,” the Paraguayan news site Amambay News reported.
One of the drug production complexes had germination rooms, a ventilation system, greenhouses equipped with lighting, a drip irrigation system, and a drying tank, among other features, SENAD said. Much of the marijuana was ready “in the camps for its packaging phase,” the Paraguayan newspaper Hoy reported.
The operation was carried out under the framework of the shared responsibility between Paraguay and Brazil in the fight against narcotrafficking. “SENAD and the PF have a close relationship based on a current cooperation agreement,” SENAD said. “Since 2014, SENAD and the PF have carried out nearly 179 joint operations, causing an economic loss [to narcotraffickers] of more than $1 billion,” the agency added.
Marijuana is the main source of funding for criminal gangs in the region, with criminal groups from Brazil and Argentina feeding off production structures based in Paraguay, SENAD said via Twitter on March 4.
Investigative journalism organization InSight Crime, which specializes in organized crime in Latin America and the Caribbean, said that this is facilitated by Paraguay’s geography, which is almost entirely flat and rural, allowing for plenty of space for cannabis crops, in addition to its porous land borders with Brazil to the east, which harbor smuggling routes.