HomeNewsBriefBrazil Cigarette Seizures Highlight Paraguay Contraband Trade
BRIEF

Brazil Cigarette Seizures Highlight Paraguay Contraband Trade

BRAZIL / 29 MAY 2014 BY KYRA GURNEY EN

Authorities in Brazil seized over eight million packs of contraband cigarettes in just one state in 2013, providing an indication of the size of the trade in black market tobacco from Paraguay, which has been linked to that country's president.

Brazilian police confiscated the cigarettes in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, in the southernmost part of the country, reported G1 Globo.

These black market cigarettes are reportedly smuggled from Paraguay in cargo trucks, and are also trafficked across Lake Itaipu -- which stretches along the border between the two countries -- from the Paraguayan city Salto del Guaira to the Brazilian city of Guaira. 

According to Brazil's federal police, contraband cigarettes have been discovered in trucks carrying corn, cotton and rice as well as inside the refrigerated chambers of vehicles used to transport chicken and beef. 

A member of the federal police force in Guaira said limited manpower and technology in the region made it difficult for police to catch smugglers. He explained that contraband traffickers had effective scouting systems that enabled them to evade the police and return to Paraguay if they were spotted on the lake by Brazilian authorities.  
Brazil-cigarrillosenglish-01     

InSight Crime Analysis

The tri-border area of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina where the cigarette crossing is located is a hub for contraband goods, a status facilitated by the large number of unregistered products flowing through Paraguay. In 2013, Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes estimated that for every million dollars in products entering Paraguay, only $10,000-worth was declared. 

Among other things, Paraguay is a major regional supplier of black market cigarettes, many of which have been linked to tobacco company Tabesa, owned by President Cartes. In addition to Brazil, these shipments have ended up in Colombia, Argentina and Bolivia, where over 1,000 crates of Paraguayan cigarettes were seized in one case in 2012

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Paraguay

Although a lucrative trade in and of itself, trafficking contraband cigarettes is also attractive to criminal groups because this activity can be used to launder money from drug proceeds. Earlier this year, an international investigation revealed that Colombian criminal groups, principally the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and a faction of the Urabeños, were selling trafficked Tabesa cigarettes for this reason. 

It is possible that something similar occurs with cigarette trafficking into Brazil, and the trade may well be linked to criminal groups like the Red Command and the First Capital Command (PCC), which have an established a presence in Paraguay.

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 / 20 DEC 2012

Authorities in Rio de Janeiro dismantled an extortion ring comprised of serving and former police officers, pointing to the level…

BOLIVIA / 22 JUL 2011

Legalization and amnesty have led to illicit trafficking and organized crime in Bolivia. We’re not talking about drugs or weapons…

BRAZIL / 8 MAY 2018

A new wave of arrests is continuing to expand the scope of Brazil’s wide-reaching anti-corruption probes, but the growing number…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.