More than 100 raids, 30 arrest warrants, and $100 million confiscated in assets. These are the results as of late March of A Ultranza PY, the largest operation against organized crime and money laundering in the history of Paraguay.
The Paraguayan National Anti-Drug Secretariat (SENAD), together with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, and the Uruguayan Police’s General Directorate for the Suppression of Illicit Drug Trafficking, have been carrying out the operation since February 22, 2022.
“It points to a broad criminal scheme dedicated to the trafficking of tons of cocaine from South America to ports in Europe and Africa,” SENAD said in a statement.
“I am sure that this is the largest operation that has been carried out so far, because of the results and all the seizures that are being made,” SENAD Minister Zully Rolón told 1000 Noticias of Paraguay. Rolón said the organization under investigation is “huge,” with people responsible for the transportation, stockpiling, preparation, and distribution of drugs from Bolivia and Colombia, including pilots and businessmen who engaged in international trade.
“It’s going to remain in history and as a didactic topic of how to learn from the system and chain of narcotrafficking and money laundering,” Rolón told Paraguay’s Radio 780.
According to SENAD, the criminal organization under investigation is linked to some 21 tons of cocaine seized over two years in Antwerp (Belgium), Rotterdam (Netherlands), Paraguay, and Uruguay.
Paraguayan authorities said the criminal organization had a sophisticated system for transporting cocaine from Bolivia to Paraguay, then to Argentina and Uruguay, to be shipped to Europe.
“In almost all the procedures, we found relatively new homes, apartments, buildings, which do not exceed three years,” Francisco Ayala, SENAD’s director of Communication, told Paraguayan channel SNT. “That establishes in some way the operational boom that the organization was having, which was investing a lot in new construction,” Ayala said.
On March 15, for example, agents raided a house in the city of Mariano Roque Alonso, Central department, where they arrested pilot Diego José Cubas Jordan. “This person is accused of being a key element of the criminal organization that carried out illicit narco flights,” Paraguayan newspaper Hoy reported.
On March 7, in the city of Emboscada, Cordillera department, agents raided a service station linked to one of the companies that belongs to the clan believed to be under the leadership of Miguel Ángel Insfrán Galeano. That same day, authorities also raided a 200-hectare property in the department of Cordillera.
“According to the data collected, [the property] was a kind of logistics center for air traffic, since it had a clandestine runway and hangar, both in excellent condition,” Ayala said in statements to Paraguayan news site El Poder.
As of mid-March, officers conducted 112 procedures in different parts of the country, arresting 12 people. Authorities also seized 85 properties, 12 small planes, a helicopter, 33 luxury vehicles, 41 tractors, 48 motorcycles, 30 trucks, nine agricultural machines and 5,400 head of cattle, according to SENAD.