HomeNewsBriefArgentina, Paraguay Smugglers Use Drug Routes for Contraband Soybeans
BRIEF

Argentina, Paraguay Smugglers Use Drug Routes for Contraband Soybeans

ARGENTINA / 14 NOV 2016 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Paraguay is exporting more soybeans than it produces in a tell-tale sign of a booming contraband smuggling trade that utilizes the same cross-border blindspots as drug trafficking in the region.

An investigation by Argentine television news show Periodismo Para Todos (PPT) has revealed how smugglers are moving soya from Argentina into Paraguay so they can export for free instead of paying Argentina's 30 percent export tariffs.

According to PPT, Paraguayan boats pass into Argentina along the Paraná River and either collect soya loads from Argentine boats or moor up in clandestine ports and await the arrival of trucks bringing the beans.

The boats, which tow convoys of containers that can hold up to 900 tons of soya, then travel north along the barely monitored waterway until they reach Paraguay. Once in the country, the soya is recorded as Paraguayan production and shipped abroad.

The contraband boom has been fueled by rising production costs in Argentina and falling global soybean prices, which have made selling to smugglers the only way for many farmers to make a profit, Rolando Muñez from Argentina's Nelson Mandel Center for Studies and Social Research (Centro de Estudios e Investigación Social Nelson Mandela) told PPT.

The impact of the illicit trade is visible in industry statistics. According to PPT, between 2011 and 2015 Argentina's soybean production increased 8 percent but exports fell 6 percent. In Paraguay, meanwhile, production rose 10 percent but exports increased by a dramatic 62 percent.

InSight Crime Analysis

The contraband soybean boom in the Southern Cone is an example of organized crime capitalizing on an ideal combination of factors.

Firstly, there is the economic. Discrepancies between tax regimes -- like the disparity between soybean tariffs in Paraguay and Argentina -- are commonly at the heart of contraband smuggling. When economic pressures are added to this, such as growing production costs and falling prices that squeeze producers, then there is major motivation for turning to contraband.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Contraband

While economic factors provide the incentive, geography provides the method. The Paraná River stretches from Brazil to Argentina, running through the Paraguayan capital Asunción and connecting with the Argentine capital Buenos Aires. It is also largely empty of customs checks and only lightly monitored.

These advantages have made the river a major artery for drug trafficking, especially for Paraguayan marijuana moving into Argentina. As is commonly the case throughout the region, smugglers have been quick to recognize that a good route for trafficking one illicit good is also a good route for other illicit products.

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

ARGENTINA / 8 MAY 2017

Criminals have attacked a prosecutor investigating corrupt police networks, pointing to a growing boldness by Argentina's criminal actors but also…

ARGENTINA / 25 JUL 2017

As discussions about police reform abound throughout the Americas, Yanilda González, an assistant professor at the University…

ARGENTINA / 8 MAR 2012

Argentina was listed as a country of "primary concern" for money laundering in the latest State Department report, which calls…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…

THE ORGANIZATION

Backing Investigative Journalism Around the Globe

5 NOV 2021

InSight Crime was a proud supporter of this year's Global Investigative Journalism Conference, which took place November 1 through November 5 and convened nearly 2,000 journalists…