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Cablegate: Brazil: Drug Trafficking Up, Drug Flights Down,

VZCZCXRO8309
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHBR #1588/01 3471526
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 121526Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3077
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 7260
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4813
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 5972
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 4301
RUEHGE/AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN 1631
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 6738
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 4054
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 7610
RUEHPO/AMEMBASSY PARAMARIBO 1707
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 2664
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0754
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 8799
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 6976
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 3191
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 BRASILIA 001588

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

FBI FOR CID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR SOCI KCRM ELAB FARC KTIP BR VE PE CO XR
SUBJECT: BRAZIL: DRUG TRAFFICKING UP, DRUG FLIGHTS DOWN,
TIP ISSUES LIMITED: A REPORT FROM THE FAR NORTH

REF: A. BRASILIA 1175 (NOTAL)
B. BRASILIA 1201 (NOTAL)
C. BRASILIA 1357 (NOTAL)
D. BRASILIA 1358 (NOTAL)
E. BRASILIA 1415 (NOTAL)
F. BRASILIA 1488 (NOTAL)
G. BRASILIA 1489 (NOTAL)

BRASILIA 00001588 001.2 OF 004


1. (SBU) Summary. Drug flights into Brazil's far north
have diminished by 75 percent since the introduction of
Brazil's Air Bridge Denial (shootdown) program, but Brazilian
authorities say pressure from Plan Colombia has actually
increased the amount of cocaine entering Brazil. The region
remains a cocaine transit point on the route from Colombia to
southern Brazil, Europe, or the U.S., but shipment routes
have shifted from land and air to rivers. The greatest
internal law enforcement challenge is personnel, and police
are hiring more agents and providing more training. The
local drugs of choice in Brazil's north are cocaine paste and
Brazilian and Paraguayan marijuana, mainly because they are
cheap. Authorities said organized crime and money laundering
are not significant problems in Amazonas or Roraima; they
give a comparatively low priority to trafficking in persons
and forced labor, and recognize that child labor exists in
mining camps. End summary.

Drug trafficking
- - - - - - - - -

2. (SBU) Emboff travelled to Manaus and Boa Vista in early
October to discuss drug trafficking and other criminal
activities with police officials and prosecutors. (Note:
Mission will report septel on indigenous issues in the
region. End note.) Sergio Fontes, Amazonas Federal Police
(PFAM) superintendent and a specialist in counternarcotics
law enforcement, said drug flights into Brazil's far north
have diminished by 75 percent since the introduction of the
shootdown program, but pressure from Plan Colombia has
actually increased the amount of cocaine entering Brazil.
According to leading Brazilian newsweekly Veja, 70 percent of
the cocaine entering Brazil comes through the
Peru-Colombia-Brazil triborder region (Veja, Sept. 10, 2008,
pp. 58-59). While the region is a key cocaine transit point
on the route from Peru and Colombia to southern Brazil,
Europe, or the U.S., shipment routes have shifted from land
and air to rivers, although drugs also enter by land on a
circuitous route from Colombia through Venezuela to Brazil's
northernmost border in Roraima. Refs A-G document recent
large riverine seizures in Amazonas, airport seizures of
small amounts bound for Europe, and plans to export cocaine
from Brazil to Guyana and Suriname by light aircraft. On
December 2, 2008, federal police made an unusually large
riverine seizure of 581 kilograms of cocaine in Amazonas.
Mission DEA believes USG donations of communications
intercept equipment are directly responsible for many
seizures and arrests in the Amazon river area.

3. (SBU) At a meeting at the Public Ministry of Roraima,
there was general agreement among Attorney-General Alessandro
Tramujas Assad and four state prosecutors that drug
transshipment through Venezuela is possible because the
Colombia-Venezuela border is not patrolled, the Venezuelan
National Guard is corrupt, and, some speculated, President
Hugo Chavez "is looking the other way." They noted that the
FARC control the Colombian side of the border. According to
the prosecutors, the traffickers are mainly Brazilians,
followed by some Colombians and the occasional Nigerian.
Fontes said that, as transshipments have increased, so has
consumption in Brazil, although interdiction efforts seem to

BRASILIA 00001588 002.2 OF 004


have caused traffickers to make smaller shipments. Large
seizures are now rare, and a typical seizure now is about 100
to 200 kilos, he explained. About 30 percent of the cocaine
entering Brazil is street quality. Amazonas State Secretary
of Public Safety Francisco Sa Cavalcante said another
transshipment method is on cars loaded on trucks that transit
Santa Elena de Uairen, Venezuela, cross the border at
Pacaraima, Brazil, and eventually reach Sao Paulo. Fontes
and Cavalcante said there is little organized crime in
Amazonas, and state prosecutors in Roraima said money
laundering is not a problem there. Superintendent Fontes
spoke highly of the excellent cooperation and good working
relationship he has with Mission Brazil law enforcement
elements.

Other Drugs in the North
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

4. (SBU) According to Fontes, the most consumed illicit
drugs in the north are cocaine paste and marijuana, both
Paraguayan and Brazilian, and Roraima prosecutors said
cocaine paste has become popular in Boa Vista. There is
little heroin in the north, it is expensive, and there is no
market for it, while ecstasy is present only in small amounts.

Police Challenges and Responses
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

5. (SBU) According to Fontes, the greatest challenge to
Brazilian law enforcement is personnel, and the 1000 Federal
Police officers in Amazonas are insufficient. (Note: Mission
DEA believes the number of PF agents in Amazonas may be much
lower. End note.) The PFAM are trying to augment
patrolling, including along the state's international border,
where they have only five two-man posts and thirty men in
Tabatinga, at the Brazil-Colombia-Peru triborder area. The
officers along the border are generally younger, less
experienced, and need more experienced officers to help them.
At the same time there has been a drop in PF agents sent to
Amazonas from other states, Fontes noted, and 120 PF agents
are unavailable for border duty because they are needed in
Manaus. Cavalcante, the Secretary of Public Safety, told
poloff that the state is addressing law enforcement
challenges with a three-pronged strategy involving increases
in personnel, internal controls, and intelligence. He said
the Amazonas military police (PM) number about 7000, but
10,000 are needed. The state hired 1000 new officers in
2007, and stepped up training so that in 2008 40 percent of
all military police will have graduated from the police
academy. He said the PM has 180 police station chiefs
(delegados), 800 investigators, and 500 clerks (escrivaos),
while the Amazonas Civil Police have 150 police station
chiefs, 500 investigators, and 250 clerks. Cavalcante
created an in-house investigative unit, a screening council
to increase internal controls, and a senior intelligence
position, and he began increasing equipment purchases to beef
up intelligence capabilities. He noted that the state police
owns a two-man helicopter and a Cessna 210 seaplane. He said
the secretariat still has no narcotics specialists, but he
plans to hire some.

Trafficking in persons, forced labor, and child labor
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

6. (SBU) Superintendent Fontes prioritized trafficking in
persons as low on the scale among the problems he faces.
When it occurs, it is mainly trafficking of women through the
region to Venezuela or Guyana, and possibly from there to
Europe, to work in prostitution. He asserted that the

BRASILIA 00001588 003.2 OF 004


problem is much more serious in Para state, and many women
are trafficked from there to Suriname to work as prostitutes.
Fontes and Cavalcante both noted that it is typical in
Amazonas and Roraima for women and girls to go voluntarily to
mining camps to work as prostitutes, and then, as the Roraima
prosecutors pointed out, they may have no way to get back
home. (Note: Prostitution that does not involve a pimp, a
brothel, or a minor is legal in Brazil. End note.) Fontes
said slave labor and child labor both exist in mining camps,
although slave labor is uncommon, while child labor is more
common and is a cultural norm in northern Brazil. He said
the PFAM work closely with the labor police (delegacia do
trabalho), which has no criminal enforcement authority, to
address the issue. He commented that slave labor and child
labor are much more prevalent in Para than in Amazonas (post
will report on conditions in Para septel).

Brazil-Venezuela Border Crossing
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

7. (SBU) Poloff traveled to the Venezuelan border with
Federal Police Agent Jesaias Portela to observe the crossing
point and local conditions in Pacaraima and the surrounding
area. The border is about 215 kilometers from the state
capital of Boa Vista along the BR 174, a federal highway that
is in generally good condition. Many Brazilians from Roraima
travel up and down the BR 174 to go shopping in Santa Elena
de Uairen, Venezuela, a duty free zone with inexpensive white
goods and electronics. Another attraction is the low price
of gasoline in Venezuela, which has generated a black market
in smuggled gasoline. PF agents regularly seize pickups and
even automobiles converted into small clandestine fuel
tankers. Smugglers have preferred the Ford Pampa pickup so
much that locals call the gasoline smugglers "pampeiros."
Brazilians may visit Santa Elena without a passport, but
travel beyond requires processing by immigration officials.
On the Brazilian side, there is an Army outpost, a Military
Police station, a Federal Police station, which is
responsible for immigration matters, and a small customs
house. A new customs building is nearly complete and will
open soon, and will require vehicles to divert off the BR 174
for inspection. Presently, vehicular traffic crosses the
border without leaving the BR 174, passing slowly over speed
bumps but usually without stopping in front of the PF
station, where an agent watches.

8. (SBU) The border area is a free transit zone on both
sides ) Venezuelans may enter Roraima without immigration
processing ) and document checks are the exception, not the
norm; poloff observed a constant stream of private cars,
pickups, and commercial trucks crossing in both directions
without being stopped. Most of the private traffic appeared
to be local, and there seemed to be more Brazilian than
Venezuelan cars and pickups crossing, possibly because of
Santa Elena's inexpensive shopping. Travelers going beyond
the free transit zone have their passports stamped inside the
PF building. A short distance away, the Venezuelan
checkpoint is visible, where most vehicles appear to pass
with few or no document checks. PF agents told poloff that
the PF will soon upgrade the Pacaraima border station and a
more senior chief will be assigned because of the greater
importance the crossing point has assumed for the GOB.

9. (SBU) Comment, TIP and labor: Women who travel of their
own volition to practice prostitution can become forced labor
victims if they get caught up in a debt bondage situation or
for various other reasons are are prevented from leaving of
their own free will. Local authorities fail to recognize
that the women and girls who are unable to leave mining camps

BRASILIA 00001588 004.2 OF 004


are in effect trafficking and/or forced labor victims. The
authorities may be right in stating that in comparison with
the neighboring state of Para, Amazonas has many fewer
victims, but they underestimate the problem because they
often fail to identify trafficking and forced labor
violations in Amazonas as such.

10. (SBU) Comment, drugs: The Federal Police are doing
yeoman's work with inadequate resources, and law enforcement
officials in Amazonas and Roraima are working against
significant regional challenges, such as drug trafficking
facilitated by the FARC in Colombia and official corruption
in Venezuela. Drug traffickers will likely continue to bring
in 70 percent or more of Brazil's cocaine through Amazonas as
long as federal and state authorities lack the necessary
manpower.
SOBEL

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