HomeNewsQuarter of Pesticides in Brazil Illegally Smuggled from China
NEWS

Quarter of Pesticides in Brazil Illegally Smuggled from China

BRAZIL / 11 AUG 2021 BY KATIE JONES EN

Brazilian police are cracking down on a longstanding practice: illegal pesticide smuggling in from China.

Since early August, Brazilian police have launched the second phase of an operation to break up a criminal network dedicated to pesticide smuggling with ties to China and Paraguay.

Police raids were carried out in the northern state of Mato Grosso, the central state of Mato Grosso do Sul and the southern states of Paraná and São Paulo, targeting both national and regional suppliers of illegally obtained pesticides, according to a police press release.

SEE ALSO: Brazil Fighting Pesticide Smuggling War on Two Fronts

This follows a separate operation to combat the illegal pesticide trade in July called “China Business II," Globo reported. That month, a string of raids was carried out in the northeastern state of Bahia to clamp down on illegally imported and counterfeit pesticides smuggled in from China.

And both of these build on a six-year investigation that began after authorities identified a scheme to smuggle pesticide chemicals into Brazil in shipments of mangoes. A criminal group mixed these chemicals with pesticides that are legally available in Brazil. The illicit mixture was sold on in reused Brazilian packaging to make it appear legal, Globo revealed.

InSight Crime previously reported on how the growing black market for pesticides had led to large robberies in Brazil while the country was also cracking down on agricultural products smuggled in from Paraguay. The nation’s biggest gangs, including the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC) and the Red Command (Comando Vermelho - CV), are involved in the trade.

InSight Crime Analysis

Most illegal pesticides smuggled into Brazil are originally sent from China and India to a lesser extent.

Industry experts are alarmed due to the rising market share of illegal pesticides. They accounted for 24 percent of all pesticides used in Brazil in 2019, according to the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo (Federação das Indústrias do Estado de São Paulo - FIESP). The use of illegally sourced pesticides in Brazil represented a total cost of $4 billion to the nation, according to 2020 seizure data.

They usually pass through the nation's borders with Uruguay and Paraguay, where regulations on these products are laxer.

SEE ALSO: How Brazil’s Borders Became More Diverse, Dangerous

To be sold legally in Brazil, agricultural products must undergo tests to safeguard consumer health and the environment. These raise prices and demands on producers and sellers, making them much more expensive than contraband pesticides that do not go through quality control. The chemicals smuggled from China thus sell easily.

Criminal groups have long exploited this Chinese connection. In 2015, a network dedicated to the illegal smuggling of the "Herbex" herbicide – popularly known as pó da China, or “Chinese powder” in Brazil - into the Brazilian state of Pará from Uruguay and Argentina was broken up.

The trade runs alongside a thriving legal market, where agricultural products are exported from China to feed Brazilian demand.

Despite the recent raids, the illicit trade shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

“The smuggling of pesticides is growing in the country at the rate that Brazilian agriculture grows … This smuggling has become a major concern as it is no longer a small market, but a large economy controlled by specialized gangs,” director of Brazil’s Institute for the Economic and Social Development of Borders (Instituto de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social de Fronteiras - IDESF) Luciano Stremel Barros, told the Brazilian Senate in September 2019.

Next month, federal inspectors from the nation's Ministry of Agriculture will have access to new spectrometers to check if chemicals passing through customs are legal or not.

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

BOLIVIA / 13 OCT 2020

Authorities claim that rising cocaine seizures along the Bolivia-Brazil border have come as a direct result of stepped-up enforcement, but…

BRAZIL / 4 AUG 2015

A new report from Amnesty International offers a harsh critique of heavy-handed policing tactics in the Brazilian city of Rio…

BRAZIL / 2 DEC 2021

InSight Crime looks at four recent environmental crises in Brazil, each showcasing a different side of the disaster in the…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…