In late January, agents of the Paraguayan National Anti-Drug Secretariat (SENAD, in Spanish) deployed inside the country’s northeastern nature reserves to carry out antinarcotics operations. Among the objectives, SENAD sought to identify and destroy marijuana crops in the forests.
On January 28, during an incursion in protected areas, agents found a campsite for marijuana production and storage, as well as 9 hectares of crops in the Morombí Nature Reserve, SENAD said in a statement.
“Those who intervened, in coordination with prosecutor Meiji Udagawa, found the clandestine campsite, where they detected 520 kilograms of pressed marijuana. They then proceeded to destroy 9 hectares of marijuana crops in the growing stage,” SENAD said. The agents incinerated the campsite and the material found.
In another operation, SENAD agents destroyed more than 5 tons of marijuana at the Maracaná Reserve, the institution reported on January 21. In the forests, agents found a center to grow and process marijuana, as well as two campsites used to store and facilitate cannabis production.
The SENAD also reported on Twitter on January 20 the destruction of almost 10 tons of marijuana in the forest area of Bella Vista, in Caaguazú. The drug was hidden in an improvised campsite. In addition to the chopped and pressed marijuana, service members destroyed 3 hectares of cannabis crops.
“Narcotrafficking groups seek to set up their drug production and storage bases in protected forest areas,” SENAD said on Facebook. As such, since late 2020, Paraguayan law enforcement agencies have increased operations in nature reserves to prevent damage to biologically rich areas.
In October 2020, the environmental news portal Mongabay reported that Morombí, a reserve that protects nearly 25,000 hectares of forests and wetlands in Caaguazú and Canindeyú departments, had lost 3,647 hectares of forests in the last 16 years, due to illegal marijuana crops. The website indicated that, according to SENAD data, authorities destroyed 18,130 kg of marijuana from 2015 to 2019, and in February 2020, in a single operation, they destroyed 600 tons of marijuana distributed over more than 200 hectares.