HomeNewsBriefCorrupt Paraguay Officials Allow Thriving Contraband Market Into Brazil
BRIEF

Corrupt Paraguay Officials Allow Thriving Contraband Market Into Brazil

BRAZIL / 26 AUG 2019 BY YURI NEVES EN

A series of raids have highlighted how widespread corruption among Paraguayan officials has allowed smugglers to operate with impunity along the Brazilian border, focusing on the Lake Itaipu and Paraná River area.

Government agencies charged with tackling smuggling have disclosed information about a series of raids that took place in the Lake Itaipu and Paraná River area last December. The raids in the area of Salto del Guairá uncovered a network of clandestine ports that were used to smuggle drugs, cigarettes and contraband to Brazil.

5 million cigarette packets were confiscated as well as 30 large boats, 10 large trucks and nine other vehicles. An investigation carried out by Ultima Hora revealed that at least 261 clandestine ports have been operating in the area for years.

During the 2017 raids, multiple government officials were implicated in the trafficking scheme. Several navy personnel were found working in the illegal ports and one such port was only 100 meters away from the Paraguayan navy base of Puerto Tigre. The head of the National Customs Directorate (Dirección Nacional de Aduanas – DNA) admitted that 27 officials from his agency were involved with the illegal operations.

SEE ALSO: Arrests Suggest Crooked Cops Are Aiding PCC’s Expansion in Paraguay

During one of the raids, a notebook was also seized, which detailed payments made to corrupt officials within the National Anti-Drug Secretariat, the Attorney General’s Office, the National Police and the Paraguayan Navy, reported Ultima Hora.

InSight Crime Analysis

This level of insidious corruption has made the Itaipu Lake and Paraná River area into what is now likely to be the largest smuggling gateway into Brazil. The sheer number of illicit docks and ports found in the area, their proximity to a naval base and the direct involvement of military personnel demonstrate that smugglers and their allies operate with almost total impunity. 

The ports were located in the Tri-Border Area, where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet, a region notorious for smuggling. The geography of the waterways in which the ports were located also present challenges to authorities. Lake Itaipu has a shoreline of 1,350 kilometers and the narrow Paraná River stretches for up to 180 kilometers of the Paraguay-Brazil border, allowing for a multitude of unsupervised crossing points between the two countries.

SEE ALSO: Marijuana Trafficking Ring Bribed Paraguay Officials for Protection

The geography of the region alone makes it highly suitable for smuggling operations but local officials’ susceptibility to corruption has only enhanced the region’s reputation as a criminal safe haven.

Last August, authorities dismantled a marijuana trafficking network which included current and former police officers, soldiers, prosecutors and customs officials. 

Efforts such as last December’s raids have failed to turn the tide against criminal actors in the area. In February, Paraguayan authorities demolished many ports used for contraband but satellite images taken the following month showed that smuggling operations had continued with little abating. 

And despite denying any involvement with the smuggling operations, earlier this month, the Paraguayan navy reassigned 70 percent of their personnel in the area.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

CHILE / 8 OCT 2020

While ruins have long been looted to supply the black market trade in antiquities, silver and textiles stolen from a…

BRAZIL / 11 JUL 2011

At least 40 prisoners escaped using a tunnel dug 10 meters deep under the wall of a police station in…

BRAZIL / 25 JAN 2012

Brazil, which borders on the world's three biggest cocaine producers, is increasingly moving to make itself a key force in…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…