Paraguay Dismantles ‘VIP Marijuana’ Labs

Paraguay Dismantles ‘VIP Marijuana’ Labs

By Eduardo Szklarz/Diálogo
November 25, 2020

In September, the Paraguayan National Anti-Drug Secretariat (SENAD, in Spanish) dismantled four urban clandestine labs that produced so-called “VIP marijuana,” the most expensive variety in the market. This is a new marijuana strain with high levels of THC, the main psychoactive substance in cannabis.

“The network produced marijuana strains with THC levels of 20 to 30 percent,” SENAD said in a press release on September 23. “Conventional marijuana, produced in the forests of border areas, has THC levels of 2 to 8 percent and is much more affordable.”

The network operated with special systems for lighting, ventilation, insulation, and marijuana storage, then selling the product to customers with high purchasing power. (Photo: Paraguayan National Anti-Drug Secretariat)

Agents carried out 12 raids in the cities of Asunción and Fernando de la Mora as part of Operation Gorilla Glue, named after a strong variety of marijuana.

Eleven people were detained, designated by Paraguay’s Office of the Attorney General as financiers, producers, and distributors in the illicit business. “All of them are between 20 and 32 years old, with good purchasing power and agronomic knowledge,” SENAD indicated.

Set up in urban housing, the labs had special systems with artificial lighting, ventilation, insulation, and marijuana storage. The equipment and seeds were purchased abroad.

According to experts, what is known as “VIP marijuana” are hybrids made from the cannabis sativa variety.

“[The producers] were crossbreeding all the marijuana sub-varieties, including indica, ruderalis, and sativa itself,” Ricardo Galeano, director of SENAD’s Forensic Laboratory, said in statements published on the website HOY.

“They combined these varieties, obtained the hybrids, and took the cuttings from the mother crops to continue growing and producing marijuana with higher THC [levels],” Galeano said.

In other operations aimed at seizing regular marijuana, SENAD agents destroyed a warehouse in the Sargento José Félix López district, in Concepción department, on October 4.

“We detected two narco-camps and seized more than 2.7 tons of processed marijuana during a raid,” SENAD said.