A joint operation between Brazilian and Paraguayan police has captured five alleged members of Brazil's feared Red Command (Comando Vermelho), further evidence of the the group's spread across the border.
The men, aged between 22 and 49 and of both Brazilian and Paraguayan nationality, are accused of working as the “armed wing” of the Red Command in the border town of Bella Vista Norte, Amambay department. They were responsible for “account settling,” as well as the trafficking of arms and drugs across the border, reported newspaper Ultima Hora.
Police also seized rifles, pistols and shotguns, an armored Porsche and other four vehicles during eight raids that followed months of planning, reported ABC. A total of 32 grams of cocaine, 152 grams of crack and 29 grams of marijuana were also confiscated.
InSight Crime Analysis
Moving across the border into Paraguay offers Red Command members a chance to escape law enforcement crackdowns in their home city of Rio de Janeiro and operate with relative ease, say police. Brazil's police representative in Paraguay warned in 2011 the country was becoming a base for Brazilian gangs and various captures since have indicated they now have a significant presence.
Setting up networks in Paraguay also means the Brazilians can exert more control over drug trafficking routes. Paraguayan authorities estimated in April that the Red Command was shipping a ton of Colombian cocaine into Brazil each month from Paraguay, for consumption in Brazil, the region's largest consumer, and transport to Europe, the world's most lucrative market.
Paraguay is a known haven of criminal activity, and the lack of air control technology makes the nation an ideal stop-off point for airplanes, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Paraguay is also a major producer of marijuana. By cutting out more of the middlemen involved in the transport, the Brazilians can garner a greater share of the profits.