HomeNewsBriefNew Paraguay Govt to 'Lie Less' About Drug Trafficking
BRIEF

New Paraguay Govt to 'Lie Less' About Drug Trafficking

PARAGUAY / 14 AUG 2013 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

The incoming head of Paraguay's anti-narcotics agency has admitted the scale of the country's drug trafficking problem, as the new administration of Horacio Cartes continues to raise concerns over criminal activities the president-elect has himself been accused of.

Luis Rojas, the current chief of operations and nominated new head of Paraguay's anti-drugs agency (SENAD), said officials had decided to "lie less" about the scale of drug trafficking in the country, reported ABC.

"When you lie less, generally you can see the scope of the issue, and this real-life monster that is drug trafficking begins to appear," he said.

Rojas admitted Paraguay was ill-equipped to deal with drug trafficking, saying they only controlled approximately 2 percent of the country's airspace, and they lacked a legal framework granting them powers to intercept suspected drug flights.

The incoming drug czar also acknowledged that the issue goes beyond marijuana trafficking -- Paraguay is the region's biggest marijuana producer -- and is also related to the country's role as a transit route for Bolivian cocaine paste travelling to Brazil.

InSight Crime Analysis

Rojas' statement comes not long after his new boss -- President-elect Horacio Cartes -- launched a broadside against smuggling and corruption, and the state's inability to effectively tackle organized crime.

Before winning last April's elections, Cartes faced recurring accusations that he himself was heavily involved in smuggling, money laundering, and the drug trade, for which he has been investigated by security forces in Paraguay and the United States. The acknowledgment by the administration of the challenges facing Paraguay in the area of organized crime may be an attempt to preemptively deflect accusations that Cartes' administration is corrupt and complicit in these criminal activities.

While this makes for a refreshing honesty about what are serious security issues confronting Paraguay, it remains to be seen whether this political posturing will be backed by actions, and if it is, whether these actions will ever touch the shady associates of the incoming president.

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