HomeNewsBriefArrests Again Point to Paraguay President’s Contraband Cigarettes
BRIEF

Arrests Again Point to Paraguay President’s Contraband Cigarettes

BRAZIL / 31 JAN 2018 BY C.H. GARDINER AND PARKER ASMANN EN

Cigarettes manufactured by a firm belonging to the family of Paraguay's president have once again been seized after being smuggled across the border into Brazil, firmly pointing towards the involvement of powerful Paraguayan elites in the booming business.

On January 27, authorities in Brazil seized 500 boxes of contraband cigarettes originating from the Tabacalera del Este company, which is owned by the family of Paraguay President Horacio Cartes, ABC Color reported. The latest seizure comes just a month after 28 smugglers, including three members of Brazil's First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC) and a police officer, were arrested for attempting to smuggle contraband cigarettes also manufactured by Tabacalera del Este into Brazil.

According to ABC Color, smugglers transport cheaper Paraguayan cigarettes across the border to Brazil with the intention of selling them at a marked-up price. The January seizure took place in Brazil's southwestern Paraná state along the Brazil-Paraguay border while the December arrests occurred in the border town of Pedro Juan Caballero, a hub for criminal organizations looking to take advantage of the porous border region between the two countries.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Paraguay

In a report by the news site Nós, the number of contraband cigarettes intercepted while coming across the border has been growing steadily in recent years. As InSight Crime previously reported, just 10 percent of cigarettes manufactured in Paraguay are sold through legal channels.

The low risk and high profits of the contraband cigarette trade make it increasingly attractive for Latin American criminal organizations that are trying to diversify their revenue streams.

InSight Crime Analysis

With members of Brazil's powerful PCC found to be distributing cigarettes manufactured by Tabacalera Del Este, there are substantial implications that criminal groups may be allied with political elites in Paraguay to benefit from the lucrative industry.

According to the Nós investigation, it is estimated that half of the 350 million reals (about $110 million) worth of contraband cigarettes smuggled across the border in 2016 were manufactured by Tabacalera Del Este.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Contraband

Brazil’s PCC has long had a presence in Paraguay, and most recently has been detected in the border town of Pedro Juan Caballero. Given its involvement in the December smuggling attempt and its continued presence in the border region, it is likely that the criminal group helps ensure safe passage for contraband cigarettes smuggled by Cartes' family company and destined for Brazil.

With members of Paraguay’s political elite allegedly involved in the trade and a lack of political will to combat the contraband cigarette trade from Brazilian officials, it is unlikely there will be a reduction in the number of contraband cigarettes illegally transported across the border.

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

ELITES AND CRIME / 7 JUL 2020

Guatemalan congressmen and political operators -- two of whom face criminal charges -- are reportedly undermining the country's top court,…

ELITES AND CRIME / 13 JUN 2015

Paraguay’s latest narco-political scandal has implicated a number of high-level government officials, but is unlikely to result in any meaningful…

ELITES AND CRIME / 27 APR 2018

The selection process for the new attorney general in Honduras is already causing concern among civil society organizations due to…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

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…