HomeNewsAnalysisBrazil Police Say Sea Is New Arms Trafficking Frontier
ANALYSIS

Brazil Police Say Sea Is New Arms Trafficking Frontier

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 15 JUL 2011 BY HANNAH STONE EN

Brazil’s Federal Police say that arms traffickers are using new routes to get weapons into the country, with entry through sea ports now just as important as land routes.

Brazil has more gun deaths than any other country in the world, and so the phenomenon of arms trafficking is a major concern. According to a study on arms trafficking by NGO Viva Rio, in collaboration with Brazil’s Justice Department, almost 20 percent of guns seized in the country are foreign produced, while others which cannot legally be sold in the country are legitimately produced in Brazil and then exported, before being smuggled back in.

According to a recent report by Correio Braziliense, the Federal Police say the increased use of maritime routes to smuggle arms is a significant development in arms trafficking into Brazil. Police identified Santos, in São Paulo, and Paranagua, in Parana — the country’s two biggest ports — as mayor points of entry for arms. They attributed this in part to the fact that there is so little oversight of imports in these ports, due to the large quantity of cargo passing through them. According to the police, the growth in Brazil’s foreign trade is a major factor in driving the growth in maritime arms smuggling, driving up the bulk of imports and exports, and making it more difficult to spot illegal goods.

The police do not provide data on the proportion of illegal guns entering by Brazil by sea, saying only that the sea routes into the country are now as much a cause for concern as the land routes. According to Correio Braziliense, only one percent of containers are checked at the ports, but this statistic appears to date back to a 2009 report from Veja magazine, which said that “Brazil’s ports are like sieves,” where only one percent of containers are checked for contraband like weapons or drugs.

Even if Brazil’s ports are becoming increasingly important transit points for illegal weapons, it is likely that the land routes will remain very heavily used. The country borders 10 other nations, with almost 17,000 km of frontier in total. More than half of this is jungle, which is only minimally patroled. Much contraband, including arms, drugs, and illegal immigrants, passes through these densely forested and remote areas. However, much also goes through border towns, which at least in theory have a much higher law enforcement presence. The 2010 arms trafficking report says that border control is “far from satisfactory.”

Below is a map by the Ministry of Justice of the points on Brazil’s borders through which where the most arms trafficking passes, along with the major ports.

brazil_arms_traffickingSource: Brazil’s Ministry of Justice

The Federal Police highlighted Colombia, Bolivia and Suriname as key countries through which arms enter Brazil to the north, while Argentina and Paraguay are key in the south. They said that one key route through which small arms travel is over Lake Itaipu, on the border between Brazil and Paraguay, also in Parana state.

As the map shows, many of the key land trafficking points are located on the Paraguayan border. This is a key location for the phenomenon of illegally re-importing weapons. The 2010 Viva Rio report found that in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, which borders on Paraguay and Bolivia, almost 30 percent of weapons seized had been exported from Brazil then re-imported.

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Related Content

BRAZIL / 28 APR 2015

Among soccer fans worldwide, Argentina's "barras bravas," Italian "ultras," and British hooligans are the fan groups best known for perpetrating…

BRAZIL / 19 SEP 2013

A Brazilian town bordering Peru and Colombia is now almost entirely dedicated to drug trafficking, according to Peruvian authorities, highlighting…

EPP / 31 MAY 2017

Paraguay's task force targeting the EPP guerrilla group has been assigned its seventh commander in less than four years, a…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…