HomeNewsBriefUruguay Cracking Down on Cattle Rustling from Brazil
BRIEF

Uruguay Cracking Down on Cattle Rustling from Brazil

BRAZIL / 5 JAN 2021 BY ALESSANDRO FORD EN

A surge in cattle and horse rustling is plaguing ranchers along the Uruguay-Brazil border, but a new specialized unit dedicated to tackling the crime may be showing signs of success.

The latest case came in December when a rural security force in Uruguay's northern department of Artigas, bordering Brazil, was informed of illegal sales being made at a horse auction, according to a statement by the Ministry of the Interior. Authorities investigating a lot of 35 horses found that 10 had been re-branded to conceal the fact that they were smuggled across the Cuareim River from Brazil.

The bust came several months after Brazilian police dismantled a cattle rustling and smuggling ring in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, on the Uruguayan border. Seven people were arrested, and 731 cattle and 80 sheep were recovered in the August raid, considered one of the region’s largest anti-cattle theft operations in years, according to reporting by Hora Del Campo.

SEE ALSO: Argentina Turns to DNA to Fight Cattle Rustling

Cattle rustling has emerged as a major policy agenda in Uruguay after complaints of theft have increased. From March to August of 2020, authorities recorded 1,200 complaints of cattle rustling, a 17 percent increase from the same period in 2019, according to Ministry of the Interior figures.

In 2019, a total of 2,075 complaints were recorded, a 16 percent increase from the 1,789 tallied in 2018, according to El Observador.

To combat the crime, Uruguay created a special unit with a strong focus on cattle rustling. After creating the National Rural Security Directorate (Dirección Nacional de Seguridad Rural – DNSR) in mid-August, 472 complaints were recorded between September and November of last year.

InSight Crime Analysis

As the world’s eighth-largest beef exporter in 2020, Uruguay has faced a long and expensive fight against cattle rustling, yet law enforcement officials have often seemed to regard it as a second-rate crime. Recent measures, however, indicate this approach is shifting.

Besides the DNSR’s creation, various other technological, legislative and security proposals have been made to combat cattle theft, ranging from using drones to patrol vulnerable areas at night and re-introducing the widespread use of branding irons on cattle. Branding is far harder to remove or hide than electronic ear tags.

The shift in attitude toward cattle rustling can also be seen from President Luis Lacalle Pou presiding over the inauguration of the DNSR, in which he declared it would attack the “organized industry" of cattle rustling.

SEE ALSO: Cattle Rustling Menaces Rural LatAm Communities

The new DNSR will likely concentrate on northern regions, such as Artigas and Salto, that touch Brazil and Argentina. The southeastern department of Rocha, which borders Brazil, is also likely to be an area of focus. In Rocha, Brazilian smuggling gangs have collaborated with their Uruguayan counterparts to transport Uruguayan animals to Brazil and vice versa, either to fetch higher prices or to complicate recovery.

Largescale animal theft and smuggling typically require several prepared transportation routes and distributors. Criminal groups involved in cattle rustling along the border have also been found to be illegally growing marijuana and to possess illegal firearms.

The DNSR may seek to collaborate with its Brazilian counterpart, the Specialized Police Stations for Combating Rural Crimes and Cattle Rustling (Delegacias de Polícia Especializadas na Repressão aos Crimes Rurais e de Abigeato - DECRAB). That force was created in 2018 and has found success in tackling rising cattle rustling in Brazil’s southwest.

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 / 16 MAY 2017

A recent ruling from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) marks the first time the court has condemned…

BRAZIL / 5 JUN 2018

Authorities in Brazil have seized documents shedding new light on the expanding finances, membership and international reach of the country's…

BOLIVIA / 28 NOV 2012

Anti-narcotics police in Bolivia have revealed that Brazil's PCC prison gang controls cocaine trafficking routes throughout the country, and are…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Combating Environmental Crime in Colombia

15 JUN 2021

InSight Crime presented findings from an investigation into the main criminal activities fueling environmental destruction in Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Collaborating on Citizen Security Initiatives

8 JUN 2021

Co-director Steven Dudley worked with Chemonics, a DC-based development firm, to analyze the organization’s citizen security programs in Mexico.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Deepens Its Connections with Universities

31 MAY 2021

A partnership with the University for Peace will complement InSight Crime’s research methodology and expertise on Costa Rica.

THE ORGANIZATION

With Support from USAID, InSight Crime Will Investigate Organized Crime in Haiti

31 MAY 2021

The project will seek to map out Haiti's principal criminal economies, profile the specific groups and actors, and detail their links to elements of the state.

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.