HomeNewsBrazil's Southern Port of Paranaguá Offers Alternative Route for Europe Cocaine
NEWS

Brazil's Southern Port of Paranaguá Offers Alternative Route for Europe Cocaine

BRAZIL / 28 MAR 2022 BY CHRIS DALBY EN

The culmination of a three-year investigation has showcased the important role Brazil’s southern port of Paranaguá plays in supplying cocaine to Europe, with gangs there in close contact with Italian mafia organizations.

On March 24, a joint operation across three Brazilian states, Paraná, Santa Catarina and São Paulo, arrested 17 people on suspicion of sending tons of cocaine over the last two years to various ports in Europe from Paranaguá, according to a police statement.

SEE ALSO: Profile of Paraná, Brazil

Authorities stated a gang used a wide range of methods to smuggle cocaine onboard cargo ships, including the most widely-used “rip-on/rip-off” technique, where a legitimate container is contaminated with drugs inside the departure port and retrieved at the arrival port, often with the complicity of port workers. However, the gang also used divers to place drugs in hidden compartments on the hull of ships, placed cocaine packages inside container refrigeration units or placed them among shipments of timber, orange juice and sugar.

During an investigation that began in 2019, investigators discovered this southern Brazilian gang was in close connection with a criminal organization in the southern Italian region of Calabria, which took care of the logistics to receive the cocaine in European ports, including Le Havre in France.

Port workers and truck drivers in Paranaguá allegedly worked with the group, letting them know which containers were bound for Europe.

Multiple drug seizures have been made in recent months at Brazil’s fifth-largest port. In February, loads of cocaine were found in containers going to Spain and Germany. And in 2020, 23 separate seizures were made, reaching 4.39 tons of cocaine.

InSight Crime Analysis

Despite dozens of seizures a year, the size of cocaine loads found at Paranaguá means it is still a long way from matching the volume of drugs being moved out of the port of Santos, near São Paulo. For comparison, Santos saw almost 17 tons of cocaine seized in 2021.

However, the connections this investigation found in São Paulo and Calabria suggest the port of Paranaguá may be being used as an extension of the alliance between the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC) and Italy’s ‘Ndrangheta. This partnership accounts for most of the cocaine traveling between Brazil and Europe, primarily shipped out of Santos.

SEE ALSO: Brazil's Santa Catarina Becoming Country's MDMA Hub

And while the police have not revealed how many seizures in Paranaguá were carried out by this group, the multiple techniques used to contaminate ships and containers suggest it carried out regular operations, backed by strong logistics and plentiful resources.

The PCC has also had a major presence in Paraná for several years. In February 2022, 29 people were charged with money laundering for the PCC in Paranaguá. And in April 2021, Brazil’s military police were deployed across Paraná to stop fighting between the PCC and a rival group, Primeiro Group Catarinense (PGC).

While most cocaine flowing into Brazil from Bolivia and Paraguay follows routes to Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and ports in the northeast of the country, the southern route remains a viable alternative.

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 / 28 OCT 2021

A Nigerian trafficking network is now using "mules" to move drugs from South America to Europe, exemplifying how this growing…

CACHIROS / 28 DEC 2020

A rush of drug plane traffic from South America, coupled with traffickers smuggling large cocaine shipments after coronavirus border restrictions…

COCAINE / 23 MAY 2022

Killings linked to drug trafficking disputes are soaring in Costa Rica’s Caribbean province of Limón, as surging cocaine flows and…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…