Search

 

Cablegate: Drugs, Arms and Contraband Continue to Enter Brazil

VZCZCXRO3057
PP RUEHRG
DE RUEHSO #0242/01 1341239
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 131239Z MAY 08
FM AMCONSUL SAO PAULO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8218
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 9346
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 3386
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 3138
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 1675
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 2690
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 3797
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0730
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 2386
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 4096
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 8708
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEAWJC/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHMFIUU/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHDC
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 SAO PAULO 000242


SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/BSC, INL, DRL
DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR DS/IP/WHA, DS/IP/ITA, DS/T/ATA
DEPT FOR EB/TPP/IPE JENNIFER BOGER AND JOELLEN URBAN
DEPT FOR EB/TPP/MTA/IPC RACHEL WALLACE
DEPT PASS USTR FOR CHRIS WILSON, KATHERINE DUCKWORTH AND JENNIFER
CHOE GROVES
NSC FOR TOMASULO
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
USAID FOR LAC/AA

TAGS: PHUM PGOV KCRM SNAR KIPR SENV ASEC PARM BR

SUBJECT: DRUGS, ARMS AND CONTRABAND CONTINUE TO ENTER BRAZIL

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY

Summary
-------

1. (SBU) Brazil continues to wrestle with the serious challenge
posed by increasingly creative traffickers of drugs, arms and
IPR-infringing products, according to law enforcement officials and
NGO representatives in Sao Paulo and Foz do Iguacu. Growing
demand, both domestic and international, is enhancing Brazil's
position as a destination and transit country for drugs entering
from Bolivia, Colombia and Paraguay. Brazil's southern Tri-Border
Area (TBA) is a center of this activity with much of this traffic
entering over Foz do Iguacu's Friendship Bridge in addition to other
methods of transportation including airplanes, boats, and human
mules. Law enforcement entities on all sides of the borders in this
area are prone to malfeasance and there remains a need to increase
tri-border legal cooperation. The use of youth in trafficking is
also on the rise, bringing into play questions of human rights in
addition to public security. Septel will report on Brazil's fight
against trafficking in persons in the TBA. End Summary.

Sao Paulo State Experts on Drug Trafficking
-------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Sao Paulo State Civil Police Chief Marcia Heloisa Mendonca
Ruiz, who heads a division working primarily on trafficking in
persons (see septel), told Poloff that she has investigated cases of
Peruvians used as drug mules and has heard of many Bolivians
involved in drug trafficking into Brazil as well. General Commander
of the State Military Police Col. Antonio Diniz said that while Sao
Paulo State has an effective apparatus to gather intelligence on
drug-related crimes, the situation is becoming increasingly
difficult to combat. The Military Police are attempting to identify
emerging areas of concern to take preventive action to avoid future
problems related to drug trafficking, but they find themselves
continually playing catch-up with the criminals, he said.

Drugs Entering Brazil from Regional Neighbors
---------------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Paulo Illes, Coordinator of the Sao Paulo-based Center for
the Help of the Migrant (CAMI), an NGO that provides support to the
large primarily Bolivian immigrant population in Brazil, said that
Bolivians are regularly used as drug mules crossing into Brazil. He
told Poloff that more than 400 Bolivian women involved in drug
trafficking are imprisoned in Sao Paulo jails, and recounted stories
in which whole families swallow drugs in order to avoid detection
when entering Brazil.

4. (SBU) A wide range of contacts said that with Brazil's continued
economic growth, they expect drug trafficking into and through the
country to steadily increase. Police Chief Ruiz, CAMI Coordinator
Illes and former Minister of Justice and Secretary of State for
Human Rights Jose Gregori, who is currently serving as President of
the Sao Paulo Municipal Commission for Human Rights, all agreed that
Brazil's relative regional wealth attracts its neighbors' citizens
to pursue sometimes illegal means to make money. Illes cited
desperation in Bolivia and Paraguay over unemployment as a force
driving individuals away from traditional jobs into illicit means of
earning income. Gregori noted the important role of the media in
highlighting concerns about foreigners involved in drug trafficking
in Brazil. He predicted that as the media increase their coverage
on this issue, public tolerance will diminish and pressure against

SAO PAULO 00000242 002 OF 005


communities used as trafficking centers or routes will increase.
The overwhelming drive to make a living and provide for one's
family, however, means that it is unlikely that individuals involved
in drug trafficking are going to stop, he added.

Trafficking Issues Over Friendship Bridge
-----------------------------------------

5. (SBU) During a recent three-day visit to the State of Parana
(population approximately 11 million) in Brazil's south, Poloff saw
several Federal Highway Police lots full of apprehended vehicles
used to transport drugs into Brazil. Buying off police officers is
common, a range of local NGO contacts claimed, indicating that the
actual number of vehicles in the lots is small in comparison to the
number of traffickers that make it past corrupt officials and even
random inspection. Upon arrival in the City of Foz do Iguacu
(population approximately 300,000) at the state's western tip and in
the heart of the Tri-Border Area (TBA) where Brazil's borders meet
with Paraguay and Argentina, it is impossible to overlook the
vibrant regional trade, both legal and illicit. Foz do Iguacu is
the entry-point for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of
counterfeit and pirated electronic devices, computers, CDs and DVDs,
perfumes, retail goods and many other products. (Note: Foz do
Iguagu Bird Park Financial Director John Legatt told Poloff that
trafficking in endangered species is common in the region as well.
End Note.) Additionally, because Paraguay has no port of its own,
Foz do Iguacu serves as one of the main entry points into Brazil for
Paraguayan overseas exports. The main checkpoint for these products
to enter Brazil is over the Friendship Bridge, where, according to
Brazilian officials, approximately ten thousand vehicles pass every
day. Customs control is weak on both the Brazilian and Paraguayan
sides of the bridge.

6. (SBU) Meanwhile, attempts to increase commerce and bring order to
the area are likely to further contribute to illicit trade in the
region. Foz do Iguacu Mayor Paulo Mac Donald Ghisi told Poloff that
Brazil and Paraguay plan on constructing a bridge in the next two
years that will triple the amount of commerce between the two
countries, but with the unfortunate side-effect of more trade in
pirated goods. Additionally, a legislative attempt to help bring
some order to small scale trading across the border, known as the
"sacoleiros" (or peddlers) bill, is under discussion in Brazil's
Congress. According to its supporters, the bill simplifies
procedures and charges a lower, unified customs rate for registered
importers. The Government's allies in Congress have pushed for the
body to quickly move on the legislation, and it is poised for final
passage, possibly this month. Business organizations assert, and
the Embassy law enforcement community agrees, however, that due to
lack of provisions for effective enforcement, the practical effect
of the bill will likely be to facilitate unlawful commerce along
with legitimate trade.

7. (SBU) Foz do Iguacu Customs Chief Gilberto Tragancin said that
he believes as the number of inspections increases on the Friendship
Bridge, the incidence of IPR-infringing goods and contraband will
decrease. (Note: Poloff's car was not inspected entering or exiting
Brazil, nor did Poloff observe any other vehicle undergoing
inspection. End Note.) He said that Customs does not inspect every
vehicle entering or exiting Brazil because the policy would
discourage bilateral commerce, and because his agency lacks the
manpower to do so. While IPR-infringing products entering from
Paraguay used to originate in China, he has seen an increasing
amount of such articles produced in Paraguay coming into Brazil, and
said that drug traffickers use the same routes to enter Brazil.

SAO PAULO 00000242 003 OF 005


Tragancin said that his agency regularly apprehends revolvers,
pistols and heavy ammunition on the Friendship Bridge being sold
primarily to organized criminal gangs from Sao Paulo and Rio de
Janeiro. He added that heavy arms (for example fully automatic
weapons such as the AK-47)increasingly enter Brazil on small planes
flying in from Paraguay and landing on hidden airstrips.

8. (SBU) Tragancin claimed that Paraguayan law enforcement and
Customs seldom take action to clamp down on IPR, arms and drug
concerns, stating to their Brazil counterparts that Paraguayan
authorities do not have resources or staff to conduct such
operations. Tragancin told Poloff this is just an excuse to cover
for the reality that Paraguayan officials and the police earn a
profit from the producers and traffickers of drugs and fake
products. (Note: Luiz Bernardi, Regional Superintendent for Customs
in Parana and Santa Catarina States, said that unlike Paraguay,
Argentina is an active partner with a clear organizational structure
staffed by officers who are not as evidently susceptible to bribes.
End Note.)

Adults Also Use Air and Sea
---------------------------

9. (SBU) Joacir Araujo dos Santos, Superintendent of the Brazilian
Airport Infrastructure Company (INFRAERO) in Foz do Iguacu, the
agency that administers Brazil's airports, said that drugs are
seized regularly on or with people trying to leave Foz do Iguacu on
planes after bringing in the narcotics from Paraguay. (Note: During
Poloff's visit, INFRAERO and the Federal Police detained a
71-year-old Brazilian with 4 kilograms of cocaine on his body
attempting to board a flight. End Note.) Santos said that INFRAERO
and Federal Police agents need much more staff and more
narcotics-detection equipment to handle all of these drug-related
crimes. Teresinha Krasupenhar, an official with the Itaipu
Bi-national Dam Public Relations Division, stressed that boats
carrying contraband and drugs cross into Brazil from Paraguay
constantly. (Note: The Itaipu Dam, the world's largest operational
hydroelectric power plant, sits on the Parana River that separates
Brazil and Paraguay. End Note.) Krauspenhar told Poloff that fewer
boats are entering Brazil since dam authorities began asking for the
Federal Police's assistance, but the phenomenon is still not
unusual.

Youth Victim to Trafficking
---------------------------

10. (SBU) Various contacts raised their concern that adults are
increasingly using children and young adolescents to transport drugs
and illegal goods from Paraguay into Brazil. Customs Chief
Tragancin told Poloff that during one operation, Customs officials
apprehended two boats, one piloted by a nine-year-old and another by
a seven-year-old, bearing heaps of counterfeit electronic products
crossing the short distance over the Parana River into Brazil.
Customs Superintendent Bernardi even claimed that traffickers are
using young adolescents to fly small planes bearing narcotics into
Brazil. Edinalva Severo from the NGO Sentinel Program for Attention
to Victims of Sexual Violence, said that children are being
increasingly used to bring in drugs - she mentioned cocaine, crack
and marijuana - and small arms and ammunition because they
physically appear less likely to be involved in illegal activity.
Noting that Foz do Iguacu has some of the highest rates of youth
violence and death in Brazil, she asserted that hundreds of children
have been killed by corrupt police officers benefiting from drug
trafficking and other adults who do not want these children to

SAO PAULO 00000242 004 OF 005


reveal the source of the drugs if apprehended after already having
made a delivery. Additionally, if any young traffickers lose the
drugs en route, they are forced to transport more narcotics into
Brazil in order to pay back the value of the lost "goods," she said.
Severo blamed the police for not investigating leads or confirmed
cases and for sometimes even supporting trafficking for personal
profit. (Note: Members of the Network for the Protection of
Children and Adolescents in the Tri-Border Frontier, an association
of NGOs, representatives of major local companies and local
government agencies were in agreement about this anecdotal
information, but we do not have the means to corroborate the claims.
End Note.)

Federal Judge on Drug Trafficking
---------------------------------

11. (SBU) Federal Judge Ricardo Rachid de Oliveira, a former
participant in International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) training
in Lima, Peru who is responsible for the adjudication of
transnational criminal cases in the TBA of Brazil, told Poloff that
the number of trafficking cases he sees is increasing steadily.
Federal Police intelligence-gathering skills are improving but the
amount of cocaine entering Brazil, with Europe as the principal
destination, is much more than what the law enforcement community is
able to handle. Oliveira said that because Brazil has increased its
drug interdiction operations in the central-western states of Mato
Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul on the border with Bolivia, and has
adopted laws having an impact on the number of planes that
previously flew into Brazil from Colombia, trafficking routes have
changed. While drugs used to originate in Bolivia and Colombia and
enter Brazil directly on their way to Europe, Bolivia and Colombian
traffickers now have to go through Paraguay. (Note: Oliveira said
that depending on the quality of the cocaine, a kilogram costs about
USD 1500-2500 in Paraguay, USD 2500-3500 in Brazil right when it
crosses the border, USD 11,000 in Sao Paulo, USD 40,000 in Europe,
and USD 80,000 in Japan. End Note.) Oliveira lamented that neither
Paraguayan law enforcement authorities nor the judiciary are taking
any action to inhibit drug trafficking and that corruption in both
is systemic. Brazil needs to improve its fight against drug
trafficking by hiring more police and increasing the presence of
Customs officials on the border, he said, but as long as Paraguay
does not "clean up its act," no amount of Brazilian efficiency will
overwhelm drug traffickers.

Comment
-------

12. (SBU) The Brazilian law enforcement community has led numerous
successful operations targeting traffickers and their customers
throughout the country. Nevertheless, as one contact told Poloff,
even if the whole Brazilian military were used to seal off Brazil's
borders, traffickers would still find a way to break through or buy
off officers. Bilateral and regional cooperation and greater law
enforcement within countries from countries of origin are the main
solutions to limiting the success of trafficking networks.
Unfortunately, the trade in drugs, arms and counterfeit goods coming
in from Paraguay is so financially lucrative that traffickers are
willing and able to cope innovatively with enforcement efforts to
date. Increased enforcement may just yield more sophisticated types
of smuggling, but there is certainly a need for a much stronger
deterrent than is now being provided. End Comment.

13. (U) This cable was coordinated with Embassy Brasilia's Law
Enforcement Working Group.

SAO PAULO 00000242 005 OF 005

WHITE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC