Paraguayan Navy Plays Key Role in Fight against Drug Trafficking

By Dialogo
September 15, 2015

Paraguay’s Navy is playing an increasingly important role in the fight against international drug trafficking, cooperating with the National Anti-Drug Secretariat (SENAD, for its Spanish acronym) through its Join Special Forces Battalion.

That unit is formed in part by graduates of theNavy's Amphibious Command, along with members of the Army and the Air Force's Air Transport Brigade - all trained in special drug enforcement operations. Supporting SENAD's tactical actions, they are known for their loyalty, honor and professionalism; they also help provide operational training for SENAD personnel and other Paraguayan government institutions.

Working with SENAD

“The Navy believes it is very important to work both independently and to complete SENAD security tasks,” said Lieutenant Commander Miguel Salum, communications director for the Paraguayan Navy. “These actions allow us to fulfill the mission to protect our river borders in the confrontation with drug trafficking...The full force of the Navy stands ready to act in support of SENAD’s needs.”

To that end, 15 seamen are on permanent duty to assist SENAD's operations. All are from the Navy's riverine force, which monitors more than 1,400 kilometers of banks along the Paraguay River and approximately 700 kilometers along the Paraná River, with Naval bases in Asunción, Ciudad del Este, Bahía Negra, Encarnación, and Salto de Guaira. Drug traffickers and organized crime groups use these rivers - especially the Paraguay River - to transport narcotics.

“The Navy is performing its duties against drug-trafficking groups. It does its work well, and it is increasingly relevant.”

Even as it takes on a larger role in the fight against drug trafficking, the Navy continues to provide medical and social assistance to civilians, protect water resources, and cooperate with civil defense efforts in the event of a natural disaster. Naval forces are also carrying out a critical infrastructure security mission for two of the country’s large hydroelectric plants – one in Itaipú, a binational dam located between Paraguay and Brazil, and one in Yacyreta-Apipé on the border with Argentina.

Meanwhile, the Paraguayan Armed Forces and law enforcement agencies are also working hard to thwart drug traffickers on land. From January 1 to April 20, security forces seized more than half a ton of cocaine and arrested 124 suspected drug traffickers, SENAD reported. And in 2014, the Joint Special Forces, in coordination with SENAD, conducted more than 100 missions against drug-trafficking organizations and narco-terrorism, leading to seizures of more than a ton of cocaine.

Helping the civilian population with humanitarian assistance

International cooperation is an important component of the Navy’s battle against drug trafficking, as it has forged a close relationship for training with its Argentine and Brazilian counterparts. The Navies of those countries provide training in command, combat in marshlands, general staff command, paratroopers, weaponry, and canine instruction.

At the same time, the Navy also trains with Special Operations units from the U.S., such as the Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces, Special Tactical Teams from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and operational teams from Brazil’s Federal Police. In fact, currently, Paraguay’s military forces are “in the process of completing an agreement with the United States in order to put current resources and investments to the best possible use,” Lt. Cmdr. Salum said. “In the past, we have received solid support from the U.S. Special Forces.”