Brazil’s southern port of Paranaguá offers alternative route to Europe Cocaine

The culmination of a three-year investigation has highlighted the important role that the port of Paranaguá, in southern Brazil, plays in the supply of cocaine to Europe, with gangs in close contact with mafia organizations Italian.

On March 24, a joint operation in three Brazilian states, Paraná, Santa Catarina and São Paulo, arrested 17 people suspected of having sent tons of cocaine over the past two years to various ports in Europe from Paranaguá, according to to a police statement.

SEE ALSO: Profile of Paraná, Brazil

Authorities said a gang used a wide range of methods to smuggle cocaine aboard cargo ships, including the most widely used “rip-on/rip-off” technique, where a legitimate container is contaminated with drugs inside the port of departure and picked up at the port of departure. port of arrival, often with the complicity of port workers. However, the gang also used divers to place drugs in hidden compartments on the hulls of ships, placed packages of cocaine inside container refrigeration units or placed them among wooden cargoes, orange juice and sugar.

During an investigation that has begun in 2019, investigators discovered that this gang from southern Brazil had close ties to a criminal organization in the Calabria region of southern Italy, which handled the logistics to receive the cocaine at the ports Europeans, including Le Havre in France.

Port workers and truck drivers in Paranaguá reportedly worked with the group, letting them know which containers were bound for Europe.

Multiple drug seizures have been made in recent months in Brazil fifth largest port. In February, shipments of cocaine were found in containers destined for Spain and Germany. And in 2020, 23 separate seizures have been donereaching 4.39 tons of cocaine.

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Despite dozens of seizures a year, the size of cocaine shipments found in Paranaguá means it is still far from matching the volume of drugs leaving the port of Santos, near São Paulo. For comparison, Santos saw almost 17 tonnes of cocaine seized in 2021.

However, the links found by this investigation in São Paulo and Calabria suggest that the port of Paranaguá could be used as an extension of the alliance between the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC) and the Italian ‘Ndrangheta . This partnership accounts for most of the cocaine traveling between Brazil and Europe, mostly shipped from Santos.

SEE ALSO: Santa Catarina in Brazil becomes the country’s MDMA hub

And although the police did not reveal how many seizures in Paranaguá were made by this group, the multiple techniques used to contaminate ships and containers suggest that it carried out regular operations, supported by solid logistics and resources. abundant.

The PCC has also had a strong presence in Paraná for several years. In February 2022, 29 people were accused with money laundering for the CCP in Paranaguá. And in April 2021, Brazilian military police were deployed throughout Paraná to stop fighting between the PCC and a rival group, Primeiro Group Catarinense (PGC).

While most of the cocaine entering Brazil from Bolivia and Paraguay follows routes to Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and ports in the northeast of the country, the southern route remains a viable alternative.

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