HomeNewsBrazilian Authorities Clamp Down on Cattle Theft
NEWS

Brazilian Authorities Clamp Down on Cattle Theft

BRAZIL / 29 JUL 2021 BY KATIE JONES EN

Brazil has launched one of its largest operations against cattle rustling, revealing how thieves swindle ranchers, steal thousands of animals and resell them across the country.

According to media, police in Brazil’s southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul dismantle a criminal organization that stole about 12,000 head of cattle and then resold them as far as the northern state of Tocantins, 2,600 kilometers away, according to media reports.

The police first learned of the thefts after a complaint lodged by around 70 ranchers, who were allegedly tricked into handing over their cattle for free. Citing police sources, RBS TV revealed the suspects collected cattle from the ranchers and paid them in post-dated checks connected to empty bank accounts.

SEE ALSO: Uruguay Cracking Down on Cattle Rustling from Brazil

Once collected, the animals were moved in trucks to the state’s central provinces of Formigueiro and Caçapava do Sul. From there, they were sold to farmers in other states. In total, police estimate the operation resulted in financial losses of up to 30 million reais (just under $5.8 million) for the rancher.

One rancher in Formigueiro told RBS TV that he handed over 542 cattle to one of the suspects but never received the agreed payment of some 500,000 reais (over $96,500).

Another rancher said he lost 70 cattle to the scheme. His father and brother were also cheated of sales.

In early July, police seized some 12,000 cattle across the states of São Paulo, Tocantins, Mato Grosso do Sul and Rio Grande do Sul, showing how the stolen cows had been sold across large parts of the country.

InSight Crime Analysis

These recent cases suggest cattle thieves in Rio Grande do Sul are adopting more sophisticated methods and how authorities are taking an increasingly proactive response to the underreported crime.

In this case, cattle were taken in large numbers and sold to farmers in other states. They were reportedly sold at prices lower than their market value to speed up transactions and cover up the fact they had been stolen.

But most often, cattle rustling occurs at a more localized level, usually in the same state. Stolen animals are often sold to slaughterhouses or thieves kill the cattle themselves before selling their meat to grocery stores, restaurants and butchers. Some also steal the animals, move them, slaughter them and then sell their meat directly to consumers.

SEE ALSO: Argentina Turns to DNA to Fight Cattle Rustling

This latest scheme required the suspects to build up trusting relationships with ranchers to then defraud them of their cattle under the premise of a legal transaction. And thousands of animals were involved, a far cry from the small numbers usually stolen when ranchers are not around.

On the positive side, the success of this investigation suggests authorities across Brazil are teaming up to target the underreported, often unpunished, crime.

In late June, it was reported that a bill proposing the use of a comprehensive livestock tracking system was being debated by the city council of Dom Pedrito, a municipality found in the southern Rio Grande do Sul. If passed, the law will introduce a database of cattle brands and signs that authorities targeting cattle theft could consult via a cellphone application to check for irregularities.

And in April, a large-scale operation targeted livestock theft across Valle Verde, a municipality in the east of Rio Grande do Sul. Later that month, GZH reported the operation had resulted in the region's largest cattle seizure by police to date.

Reported incidences of cattle theft in Rio Grande do Sul fell from 1,286 across the first quarter of 2020, compared to 945 recorded during the same period in 2021.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

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.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BRAZIL / 30 DEC 2016

The prison population throughout Latin America has been growing steadily for the past few decades. Harsh drug laws and anti-gang…

ARGENTINA / 4 AUG 2011

Bolivia is set to install a radar security system on its border to better monitor its airspace and fight drug…

BOLIVIA / 27 APR 2017

Recent actions carried out in Bolivia by Brazil's two most powerful prison gangs indicate these groups are looking to deepen…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…