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Cablegate: Brazil: Drug Trafficking Up, Drug Flights Down

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RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHBR #1686/01 3661930
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 311930Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3207
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 7295
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4831
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 6007
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 4314
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 6768
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 4068
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 7632
RUEHPO/AMEMBASSY PARAMARIBO 1715
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 2672
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0789
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 8859
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 7043
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 3273
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BRASILIA 001686

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: NAR SOCI KCRM ELAB FARC BR
SUBJECT: BRAZIL: DRUG TRAFFICKING UP, DRUG FLIGHTS DOWN
PART 2: A REPORT FROM PARA AND MARANHAO

REF: A. BRASILIA 588
B. BRASILIA 56

1. (SBU) Summary: Brazil's Air Bridge Denial ("shootdown")
program has diminished drug flights in Brazil, and as a
result, traffickers are increasingly using riverine routes to
transport drugs out of the country. The state of Para sees
much of this riverine trafficking. The combination of
tributaries, estuaries, and hundreds of islands that dot the
landscape on the mouth of the Amazon river in Para state
create thousands of hideaways that traffickers of illicit
goods use to avoid scrutiny. Monitoring of the riverways on
the part of the state and federal authorities is effectively
nonexistent, as law enforcement forces in the state face
daunting resource and personnel challenges. Assignments to
Para are not the path to career advancement in the Federal
Police, and positions there are often filled by the least
experienced of officers, who serve a few years and move on to
better assignments. Maranhao, on the other hand, does not
suffer from international drug trafficking, but a critical
shortage of resources, stemming from its status as the second
poorest state in Brazil, leaves it ill equipped to deal with
myriad public security problems. End summary.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
A Safe Route Through the Amazon River for Traffickers
--------------------------------------------- ---------

2. (SBU) Emboff traveled to Para and Maranhao in late
September to discuss drug trafficking and public security
(septel will report on trafficking in persons, forced labor,
and exploitation of women and children in those states).
According to Cleomenes de Alencar, a police officer in the
intelligence division of the Federal Police (DPF) office in
the state of Para, since the establishment of the "shootdown"
program they have seen a decrease in the number of drug
flights and a consequent increase in the use of riverine
routes to transport drugs out of Brazil. Federal Prosecutor
Ubiratan Cazetta, who specializes in international drugs and
crime, noted that the geography of the state is particularly
favorable to traffickers who use riverine routes. The island
of Marajo in particular, he noted, is filled with hideouts
and favorable spots for transshipment of goods. One method
often used by traffickers is to hide drugs in wood exports,
such as doors, with hollowed out areas for drugs, mostly
cocaine.

3. (SBU) Regional Superintendent of the Federal Police in the
State of Para, Manuel Fernando Abbadi, noted that the
police's ability to monitor drug trafficking through the
Amazon is negligible; their operations are all intelligence
based, since there is no patrolling going on in the rivers.
The State military police does no patrolling in the rivers
and the Federal Police only has four boats to monitor the
riverways in Para, all of which were out of commission on
repairs at the time.

4. (SBU) Asked about the Federal Police's presence in Para,
he noted that in addition to the office in Belem, there were
federal police stations in Maraba, Redencao, Santarem,
Altamira and a small forward post in Obido. Most of these,
however, consist of only a few police officers. Alencar
noted that despite the decrease in drug flights, there is
still a considerable amount of trafficking taking place
through air routes, and there remain clandestine air strips
throughout the states. Furthermore, he noted, the Federal
Police essentially stopped its efforts to take out the strips
with explosives, a futile effort since new strips can crop up
overnight. He drew a horizontal line starting in Maraba and
noted that below that line (an area roughly the size of
Germany) and in some parts above it, there was a general
problem of governance, as there is no state presence, adding
that "there are many clandestine landing strips in those

BRASILIA 00001686 002 OF 003


areas still in use".

-------------------------------------
Federal Police Has Seen Better Days
-------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Lack of experienced personnel is hampering efforts
to stem the rising riverine drug trade. Asked for his
assessment of the efforts of federal and local authorities,
Prosecutor Cazetta observed that the local authorities were
not competent to deal with international drug trafficking,
and that even the Federal Police had its own set of problems.
"There has been a generational shift in DPF officers serving
in Para," noted Cazetta. "While the new officers are smart
and enthusiastic, for many their stint in Para is their first
tour," he observed and added that there is now more of a rush
to move on to "career enhancing assignments" outside the
region after paying their dues in the less glamorous
assignments such as Para. According to Cazetta, this higher
rate of turnover has had a negative impact in the depth of
knowledge and expertise of local realities and caused a
weakening of relationships within the law enforcement
entities in the state.

6. (SBU) Wilson Jose Barp, a professor of public security at
the Federal University of Para, agreed that quality of
personnel was an issue, particularly at the level of the
state police forces. As professor within the university's
RENAESP program--essentially a graduate degree in public
security certified by the Ministry of Justice's National
Secretariat for Public Security that is part of the Brazilian
government's anti-crime plan PRONASCI (ref B)--he teaches
courses for public security professionals, mostly state civil
and military police officers. According to Barp, the
students often show a rudimentary level of understanding of
police tactics, technology, and investigative techniques.
The impact from the creation of the RENAESP program up to
this point has been limited, but should improve the quality
of state police forces over time.

--------------------------------------------- -
Maranhao: "We need more money for everything"
--------------------------------------------- -

7. (SBU) The drug trafficking situation in the state of
Maranhao, according to Telmo Macedo Fontoura, is not as much
of a problem as in Para. Fontoura, a retired Federal Police
officer and now special assistant to the State Secretary for
Public Security, notes that a bigger issue than international
trafficking is drug use among youths in the State,
particularly 'merla,' a popular drug in Brazil made from the
byproducts left over during production of cocaine.

8. (SBU) Reflecting on the larger problems Maranhao faces,
Fontoura noted that back when he was active in the federal
police he mostly worked in the south and south eastern
regions of the country and that as a result he never seen
anything like the poverty and social conditions that exist in
Maranhao. (Note: From 2003-2005, Maranhao ranked next to last
in the human development index among Brazilian states; at
.683 for 2005, Maranhao's figure is lower than Bolivia and
Guatemala, the least developed countries in Latin America.
End note.) "We need more money for everything," Fontoura
observed, and as a result, the state government successfully
appealed to the Federal government for Federal funds through
the PRONASCI program (Note: Maranhao was not included in the
PRONASCI program; it was originally designed to go towards
the 11 cities with the highest crime rates in Brazil.
Although Maranhao ranks low in homicide rates within Brazil
ranked 23rd out of 27 jurisdictions in homicide rates, it
ranks among the middle third of states in most other crime
statistics, according to the 2007 Annual Index of the Forum
Brasileiro de Seguranca Publica. Only two other states,

BRASILIA 00001686 003 OF 003


however, spend less per capita on public security than
Maranhao. End note.).

9. (SBU) Fontoura observed that prison overcrowding was a
significant problem for the state, noting that there are only
a few prisons in Maranhao, and prison riots frequently break
out as a result, including one that was taking place at the
moment of the meeting. (Note: according to Ministry's of
Justice's National Department of Prisons, there are five
prisons in Maranhao, and six holding facilities in a state
with a population of about six million; as of June 2008,
there were about 5,300 persons in prison or held in custody
and space for only 2,500. End note.). According to
Fontoura, the state recently came out with a public security
plan that will use PRONASCI funds to build several prisons
and to establish a state presence, through community
councils, in every slum, starting in the capital city of Sao
Luis. These councils, according to Fontoura, should help in
establishing a government presence in neighborhoods by
establishing a mechanism for dialogue between communities and
public security forces, helping administer social programs,
and monitoring at-risk youth. He added, however, that it was
an extremely uphill climb and they were just getting started
setting up these councils.

-------------
Comment:
-------------

10. (SBU) As noted in ref a, there is mounting evidence that
traffickers adjusted to the "shootdown" program by shifting
their trafficking activities to more secure routes,
particularly the unpoliced Amazon river. Traffickers shifted
their patterns but the Brazilian government has been slow to
adjust to the new tactics, mainly due to the considerable
challenges in personnel and resources the Federal Police
faces.

11. (SBU) Comment, cont. As one of poorest states in Brazil,
Maranhao has an extremely limited ability to provide public
security. Public Security officials are making the best of a
tough situation and have put in place an approach that has
garnered attention from the national government, who found
their proposed plan worthy enough to be included as part of
PRONASCI, and could begin to pay dividends in the long-term
if executed on a sustained basis.
KUBISKE

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