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Paraguay - Increased Police Activity along the Borders Has Not Intimidated Smugglers

11/13/2017 - 11h02

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MARCELO TOLEDO
SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT REPORTING FROM CIUDAD DEL ESTE (PARAGUAY) AND GUAÍRA (PARANÁ)

It's 3pm on a Wednesday and Federal Police agents are boarding their potent motorboats in yet another anti-contraband operation in the Paraná river, along the Brazil-Paraguay border. Teenagers who are approximately 200 meters away look on attentively, pulling out their smartphones as the motorboat departs. And just like that, the gang they belong to already knows that it should avoid the river. This very situation repeats itself on a daily basis.

Police activity has increased ever since the naval bases of the Federal Police (PF) were established in Foz do Iguaçu and Guaíra (Paraná) not to mention the unrelenting operations carried out by Brazil's Department of Federal Revenue.

However, smugglers have not only managed to circumvent government inspection by building clandestine ports, they have also managed to "keep tabs" on agents of the Federal Police, whose every step is monitored by the more than 20 gangs that are active in the region.

Folha reporters tagged along with agents who carried out inspections on both land and sea in the area surrounding the Triple Frontier region, encountering illegal ports that were built in Paraguay, along with boats that were waiting for smuggled products before crossing the border that separates the countries.

Eduardo Anizelli/Folhapress
FOZ DO IGUACU, PR, BRASIL
FOZ DO IGUACU, PR, BRASIL

Over 140 vessels have been apprehended in the regions of Foz do Iguaçu and Guaíra in 2017 alone. Ever since the inspections in Foz became more stringent, smugglers have started navigating all the way up to Salto del Guairá, Paraguay, in order to unload products on Brazilian soil, either through Guaíra or Mundo Novo (Mato Grosso do Sul). The river commute is 200 kilometers long.

Contraband has become highly proficient, with gangs monitoring every step the Federal Police and its agents take. Reports have even emerged linking Hezbollah, a Libyan Shiite movement, to Brazilian criminal organization First Command of the Capital (PCC).

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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