Paraguay Continues to Score Success Against Illicit Drug Trafficking
By Eduardo Szklarz/Diálogo September 29, 2020
The Paraguayan National Anti-Drug Secretariat (SENAD, in Spanish) is keeping the pressure on illicit drug trafficking.
On August 16, with the assistance of Brazil’s Federal Police (PF, in Portuguese) and as part of Operation New Alliance XXII (Operación Nueva Alianza XXII in Spanish) SENAD agents destroyed marijuana production and storage centers in the Paraguayan border area of Pedro Juan Caballero, on August 17.
“On the operation’s first day, two narco-camps were found and destroyed as well as 2,200 kilograms of marijuana,” SENAD reported. Agents also destroyed 19 hectares of cannabis crops, enough to produce at least 57 tons of the illegal substance.
During another operation on July 17, Paraguayan agents caught narcotraffickers who were loading a light aircraft with 425 kg of cocaine in the town of Toro Pampa, in Alto Paraguay department.
Authorities detained three crew members, including the Paraguayan leader Sergio Rotela, who coordinated aircraft arrivals on a clandestine airstrip that was more than 1 kilometer long. The cocaine seizure is SENAD’s largest so far this year.
“As we do not produce cocaine hydrochloride, [the substance] had to have come from some producing country, such as Peru, Bolivia, or Colombia,” Elva Cáceres, prosecutor at the Specialized Unit against Narcotrafficking of the Attorney General’s Office of Paraguay, told the TV channel GEN.
According to Cáceres, the aircraft was registered in Paraguay and had departed from the city of Pedro Juan Caballero. “The shipment was already here and was bound for Argentina,” the prosecutor said.
Three other members of the group fled the scene after exchanging fire with the authorities.
On July 5, SENAD agents seized 643 kg of marijuana aboard a speedboat coming from Brazil in Ciudad del Este, in the Tri-border area. The operation began when a Paraguayan Navy patrol detected the vessel on the Paraná River. Upon noticing the patrol agents, the individuals on board fled and abandoned the speedboat.
“The marijuana seemed to have been bound for Brazil,” SENAD reported in a press release. With these two operations, SENAD seized more than 1 ton of drugs in less than two weeks.