Paraguay arrested a Brazilian drug trafficker with almost 2 tons of marijuana, highlighting the country’s role as a major supplier of the drug, whose biggest market is the neighboring Brazil.
On August 21, Paraguayan authorities captured Brazilian drug trafficker Osvaldo Rodrigo Pagiotto with 1,991 kilos of marijuana, reported ABC. Pagiotto was arrested in the city of Pedro Juan Caballero on the Paraguayan border with Brazil, having fled from a São Paulo jail where he was imprisoned for trafficking offenses.
According to anti-narcotics agents, the marijuana likely belonged to Gerardo Ramon Sanchez Gomez, alias “Quela’i,” a Paraguayan national who is wanted by police for his role in a double homicide in the central province of San Pedro.
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Paraguay is the largest producer of marijuana in South America, according to the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and accounts for 15 percent of the global trade in the drug. According to Miguel Chaparro of Paraguay’s anti-drug agency (SENAD), only 10 percent of Paraguay’s marijuana is consumed domestically, with 80 percent of the crop trafficked to Brazil where it can fetch a higher price. Traffickers can sell marijuana at $283 a kilo in Brazil, compared to $31 for a kilo in Paraguay, reported InfoSurHoy.
The Brazilian Federal Police’s representative in Paraguay, Antonio Celso dos Santos, explained last year that Paraguay is an increasingly attractive location for Brazilian drug gangs. Organizations such as the Red Command (Comando Vermelho) and First Capital Command (PCC) have relocated to Paraguay in recent years in an effort to avoid capture in their home country and cut Paraguayan middle men out of the drug trade, Celso dos Santos stated.
In addition to being a major supplier of marijuana, the high levels of corruption in Paraguay’s police and armed forces has made the country a comparatively easy place for drug gangs to operate. A former military official was arrested last month while helping a Brazilian trafficker transport 40 kilos of cocaine, while the military have been accused of supplying Brazilian gangs with arms.