The number of Brazilians imprisoned abroad has increased by nearly a third since 2011, with drug offenses the most common reason and some of the highest numbers of detainees held in places with organized crime connections to Brazil.
According to a recent report by Brazil’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, the number of Brazilians detained abroad rose from 2,500 at the end of 2011 to 3,209 by the end of 2013, reported the BBC.
Brazil’s neighbors saw the most rapid rise in prisoners from that country, with Paraguay, Bolivia and French Guiana the South American countries holding the highest numbers of Brazilians. A third of these South American cases are related to drug or arms trafficking, according to officials.
However, the continent with the most Brazilian prisoners is Europe, where 1,108 inmates are held — 44 percent of them on drug charges.
The country with the largest Brazilian prison population is the United States, although only 2 percent of detainees are being held on drug charges.
Surprisingly, the country with the second largest number was Japan, where drug offenses were behind 26 percent of cases, reported R7 Noticias.
InSight Crime Analysis
The growth in numbers of Brazilian prisoners abroad and the places they have been detained correspond with the spread of Brazilian organized crime. Groups such as the Red Command (CV) and the First Capital Command (PCC) have established a firm presence in countries such as Paraguay and Bolivia. They are also involved in trafficking drugs to Europe, with Brazil now one of the main dispatch points for European bound cocaine.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of the PCC
Currently, the high number of arrests in Japan appears to be related more to juvenile delinquency among Brazilian immigrant youth than to high level crime, but this could also be an area of interest in the future.
Asia’s economic boom — according to the World Bank, East Asia has the world’s fastest growing economy — has run parallel to a steep increase in drug consumption in the region. According to the United Nations Offices of Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) 2013 World Drug Report, Asia went from being home to 2 percent of the world’s cocaine users in 2005 to 8 percent in 2011, while cocaine seizures in the continent have shot up in recent years.
Ties between Brazil and Japan run long and deep, with large immigrant populations in both countries, making for fertile conditions for Brazilian organized crime groups should they decide to move in on this new market.