HomeNewsHashish: New Player in Brazil Drug Markets
NEWS

Hashish: New Player in Brazil Drug Markets

BRAZIL / 24 JUN 2021 BY ALESSANDRO FORD EN

Onboard a European sailboat, Brazilian authorities made a record seizure of marijuana resin, also known as hashish, appearing to confirm the existence of a small but steady trans-Atlantic drug route heading to Brazil.

On June 16, the Brazilian Navy discovered 4.3 metric tons of hashish on a sailboat traveling from Portugal while it crossed international waters about 420 kilometers from the northern port city of Recife.

Hashish, a brown compressed solid with a higher psychoactive potency than herbal marijuana, is a recent addition to Brazil’s drug market. Along with South America in general, the country has had little experience with the drug mostly produced in North Africa, especially Morocco.

The last comparable seizure was in January 2019, when Brazilian authorities seized over two tons of hashish and arrested two Portuguese men in the coastal state of Ceará.

SEE ALSO: Paraguay Forest Fires Fueled by Increasing Marijuana Demand During Pandemic

But over the last year, hashish traffickers have reportedly established a maritime route from Africa to Brazil, often exploiting the drug’s higher value in the region to swap it for cocaine, according to a recent article by Spain’s El Confidencial, citing Spanish law enforcement.

Brazilian Federal Police stated that the seizure "confirms the existence of a transcontinental maritime hashish traffic route to Brazil, through which large quantities of drug shipments would transit."

The size of Brazil's market for hashish is uncertain, however. On the one hand, foreign imports, combined with emerging production in Paraguay, indicate a steady, wealthy client base willing to pay a high price, with hashish reportedly sold for triple the price of marijuana.

On the other hand, evidence of wider usage remains scarce. In an interview with InSight Crime, Christian Azevedo, a senior police official currently seconded to the Department of Justice and Public Security in Minas Gerais, said "consumption is not very high at all [and] I haven’t seen any evidence that hashish trafficking has been growing in Brazil [recently]."

InSight Crime Analysis

The emergence of a trans-Atlantic hashish trafficking route from North Africa and Europe to Brazil, often via West Africa, represents an interesting criminal development in Brazil.

Most importantly, it displays a new drug exchange system: hashish-for-cocaine. While "kilo-per-kilo" prices in Brazil are still skewed towards cocaine, the difference can be close to negligible, according to June 2021 article by Spain's El Día.

“A kilo of hashish directly in Morocco can cost 300 euros per kilo; in the [Canary Islands], the price during this semester is 1,980 euros per kilo…in the United States, it was [once] 3,000 euros per kilo," the outlet cites a Spanish drug official as saying.

SEE ALSO: Mozambique Becoming Southern Africa's Cocaine Platform

In late-2020, Spanish authorities arrested an alleged Bulgarian drug trafficker, Dimitar Mitrin, who had reportedly grown rich on this system, using spots in West Africa to swap hashish for cocaine, according to Spanish media, as well as arranging transports of hashish directly to Brazil.

“My opinion is that [in the case of this recent seizure, the traffickers] were bringing hashish to Brazil to sell it to offset the costs of buying cocaine to ship to Europe,” Christian Azevedo told InSight Crime.

More broadly, these trans-Atlantic hashish imports may point to a minor diversification of Brazil's infamously large marijuana market, which consumes vast quantities of the drug from Paraguay.

It is in this vein that Paraguayan processors have, since at least 2019, begun making their own hashish in border areas like Amambay state.

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

COCAINE / 5 MAR 2021

Corn flakes “frosted” in cocaine and fentanyl pills hidden inside toys might make for amusing headlines, but these recent discoveries…

CHILE / 20 JAN 2022

Authorities in Chile have reported a string of massive maritime seizures of marijuana, indicating traffickers are searching for new smuggling…

COCAINE / 12 JAN 2023

Peru's largest seaport handles millions of tons of cargo annually, a fact that cocaine traffickers are using to their advantage.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…

THE ORGANIZATION

‘Ndrangheta Investigation, Exclusive Interview With Suriname President Make Waves

2 DEC 2022

Two weeks ago, InSight Crime published an investigation into how Italian mafia clan the ‘Ndrangheta built a cocaine trafficking network from South America to ‘Ndrangheta-controlled Italian ports. The investigation generated…