The dismantling of a gang trafficking marijuana and cocaine from Colombia to Brazil has revealed greater connections between organized crime in both countries.
Five men were arrested in Colombia’s southern department of Putumayo on charges of trafficking drugs over the Brazilian border and selling it to Brazilian groups, according to a January 3 report by Colombia’s Attorney General’s Office.
The men allegedly had their own marijuana plantations in Colombia’s department of Cauca.They then used members of Indigenous communities to transport the drugs. The shipments of cocaine and marijuana were temporarily stored near the Brazilian border before being sent across by boat.
The report mentioned that the drugs were sold to Brazilian gangs, including the Red Command (Comando Vermelho – CV), one of Brazil’s main criminal groups, and the Family of the North (Familia do Norte – FDN).
This is far from the only recent drug trafficking connection made between the two countries. In October 2021, Brazilian police dismantled a drug gang that arranged drug flights and shipments to carry cocaine from Venezuela and Colombia into northeastern Brazil. Authorities seized three planes and 19 boats as well as total assets in excess of $1 million.
InSight Crime Analysis
While much of the drug flow into Brazil comes from Bolivia and Paraguay, the Colombia connection has become increasingly relevant.
With record amounts of cocaine being produced in Colombia, drug gangs in the country have had plenty of product to offer their Brazilian counterparts. In 2017, a report by Brazilian magazine Exame estimated that Brazilian gangs were buying as much as 35 percent of Colombia’s drug production.
While this high number is difficult to verify, Brazil has become a major exporter of cocaine to Europe. Gangs such as the Red Command or its rivals, the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC), have become influential middlemen. Their territorial control allows them to connect producers in Colombia – such as the Urabeños and dissident groups formerly belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC) – with mafias in Italy and eastern Europe.
But as evidenced by the most recent operation, the Brazil-Colombia drug trafficking connection does not end with cocaine. Colombian marijuana, particularly of the “creepy” variety, has also fueled a growing domestic market in Brazil