HomeNewsParaguay May Be Shifting from Producing LSD and MDMA to Consuming Them

Paraguay May Be Shifting from Producing LSD and MDMA to Consuming Them


Authorities in Paraguay have dismantled a ring that sold a range of synthetic drugs, indicating that this subset of the drug market in the South American country continues to expand.

The bust, which took place in and around the capital of Asunción, ended with a haul of synthetics, including MDMA, better known as ecstasy; methamphetamines; LSD; and "tusi," which authorities described as a blend of MDMA and ketamine. Authorities arrested 10 men on drug charges. Four were Paraguayans and the rest foreign nationals from Brazil, Argentina and Colombia.

According to Paraguay's National Anti-Drugs Secretariat (Secretaría Nacional Antidrogas-SENAD), the June 3 operation was the first to target the domestic sale of synthetic drugs.

Newspaper Ultima Hora reported that the drugs were sold at bars, clubs and parties attended by young, wealthy Paraguayans. Doses cost between 70,000 and 300,000 Paraguayan guaranies ($10 to $45), according to Francisco Ayala, SENAD's communications director.

SEE ALSO: Paraguay's First Ecstasy Lab Shows Brazil Criminal Migration

Ayala said the drugs seized in the operation were not manufactured in Paraguay. While their exact origin is unknown, he speculated that they were processed in Europe, moved to Brazil and then smuggled over the border to Paraguay.

He noted, however, that SENAD “cannot rule out the existence of laboratories” in the country.

InSight Crime Analysis

The range of synthetics seized in the latest operation suggests that Paraguay's drug consumption habits are diversifying and becoming more aligned with those of its neighbors.

According to a 2017 SENAD report, marijuana was the drug most commonly consumed in Paraguay, long South America’s largest cannabis producer. Cocaine and crack were also part of local drug markets, according to the report.

Spates of violence have occasionally plagued Asunción in recent years as local gangs battle for control of street sales of these drugs. The control of crack sales in prisons has been blamed for gang riots. Paraguay is also increasingly being used as a transit hub for cocaine, meaning that it is likely some is being left behind.

MDMA has been seized in the country in the past. In 2014, a massive ecstasy laboratory was dismantled in Paraguay. But the drugs, authorities said, were likely destined for Brazil and other countries. In 2018, some 30,000 pills of ecstasy were discovered in the luggage of a man arriving at the country's main airport. An official said in a news release that the drugs were for the local market and also to be smuggled to Brazil.

Synthetics popular in the region, particularly pink cocaine or tusi, appear to be making inroads in Paraguay's drug scene. While the name tusi is meant to refer to a specific drug molecule, 2-CB, it has come to stand for a mixture of a wide range of substances; the tusi seized in the latest bust was a mixture of ketamine, a tranquilizer used by veterinarians, and MDMA. The first seizure of it in Paraguay occurred in January 2021, according to an Ultima Hora report.

SEE ALSO: Synthetic ‘Pink Cocaine’ Crossing from Argentina Into Uruguay

Paraguay is not the only country in the region to see these synthetics rising. In 2019, Uruguayan officials sounded alarms about pink cocaine flowing across its borders from Argentina. Consumption of synthetic drugs in Argentina has skyrocketed in recent years.

Chile has also seen an influx of synthetic drugs like MDMA entering the country, fueled by a strong domestic market. In Chile, these products have traditionally come from Europe, but recently there has been an uptick in seizures along the Chile-Argentina land border. The discovery of several synthetic drug laboratories in Brazil in 2019 highlighted the country's role as a producer of MDMA.

Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay’s Tri-Border Area (TBA) has long been a hub of cocaine and marijuana trafficking. Given the nationalities of those arrested in Operation New Evolution, synthetic drug smuggling could become prevalent there.

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.


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.


Related Content

BRAZIL / 8 JUL 2022

Authorities in Paraguay and Brazil have recently stepped up activities targeting contraband flows through lake Itaipú, from where all manner…

FENTANYL / 19 JUL 2021

The United States saw a record toll in drug overdose deaths last year, driven in part by two powerful synthetic…

BRAZIL / 20 FEB 2021

Drug traffickers engage in a creative game of hide and seek with coast guards and other security forces that board…

About InSight Crime


Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…


Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…


Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…


Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…


InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…