Paraguay Carries Out Record Cocaine Seizure

Paraguay Carries Out Record Cocaine Seizure

By Juan Delgado/Diálogo
November 20, 2020

The largest cocaine seizure in Paraguay’s history took place on the night of October 19, when authorities found almost 3 tons of cocaine hidden in a charcoal shipment at a private port in the city of Villeta, 30 kilometers from Asunción.

Following the inspection of 11 containers, authorities seized a total of 2,906 kilograms of cocaine, the Paraguayan Ministry of the Interior said in a press release. State news agency IP reported that the drug was bound for Israel.

The cocaine seizure was a Sensitive Investigative Unit (SIU) operation, which consists of members of the Paraguayan National Police (PNP), who led this operation, along with assistance from the Administrative Coordination of Customs Investigation (CAIA, in Spanish), PNP Antinarcotics, and attorneys from the Specialized Unit in the Fight Against Drug Trafficking.

On October 13, SENAD agents destroyed 9 tons of marijuana in the Caaguazú area within the framework of narcotrafficking operations. (Photo: Paraguayan National Anti-Drug Secretariat)

“The connection Asunción-Buenos Aires-Antwerp (Belgium), and finally Israel, was the route to be used for the shipment’s transfer,” said Paraguayan Interior Minister Euclides Acevedo, the newspaper La Nación reported. “But the final destination of the drug was not Israel; rather, it was going out to other locations from there. Now it’s all going to be investigated. The special agents will virtually recreate the route to learn about the modus operandi.”

Commissioner Osvaldo Ávalos, head of the National Police Antinarcotics Department told the digital newspaper Última Hora that the National Police carried out several raids, where they seized documents and cell phones, enabling the investigation to move forward.

“It’s a triumph, a strong historical blow to organized crime, and it’s the commitment of our government, and we are going to continue working,” said Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez after visiting the private port, the office of the Presidency said in a statement. “It’s significant, it’s the largest shipment; we already had a record last year, [and] now we broke our own record for cocaine seizures.”

In February 2019, IP reported that the National Anti-Drug Secretariat (SENAD, in Spanish) had seized 2,580 kg of cocaine in Concepción department, which was considered the country’s record seizure at that time.

Marijuana plantations destroyed

SENAD agents also destroyed 9 tons of marijuana during an operation in the Caaguazú area on October 13. Troops entered a farm to eradicate marijuana crops and destroy drug storage sites.

“Once the run through was completed, we found an area with newly cultivated marijuana crops and one already in the harvesting process. With notable signs of deforestation, the area also had tents with the drug ready to dry, and part of it was already in bags,” SENAD said in a statement.

According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2020 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Paraguay continues to be one of the largest marijuana producers in the Western Hemisphere, and serves as a transit country for Andean cocaine.