Paraguay Cocaine Bust Shows Evolution of Local Org Crime

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Authorities in Paraguay have dismantled a national criminal group and seized 309 kilos of cocaine destined for Brazil perhaps onto Africa, evidence of the growing sophistication and evolution of Paraguayan organized crime.

The group was dismantled following a police operation on April 4, reported ABC Color, with leader Victor Britez Aranda, alias “Chapalo,” arrested in a luxury residence in the state of Alto Parana — which makes up the Paraguayan portion of the Triple Frontier with Brazil and Argentina.

The drugs were seized from a modern estate in the district of Ybycui, in the province of Paraguari — around 60 kilometers southeast of capital Asuncion — Another five members of the gang were also arrested.

The organization reportedly flew cocaine in from Bolivia, stockpiled the drugs in the Ybycui estate before moving them on to the eastern border city of Ciudad del Este, where the group reportedly laundered drug proceeds through a number of legitimate businesses.

According to investigators cited by ABC Color, the drugs were sent from Brazil to Mozambique, where Aranda’s brother was arrested in 2008 in possession of 800 kilograms of cocaine. 

InSight Crime Analysis

As well as being South America’s largest marijuana producer, Paraguay is a key transit country for drugs destined for Brazil and Europe, as well as a contraband hub. While its criminal groups have traditionally been subservient to foreign organized crime established in the country, this latest operation is a sign that local groups may be establishing more control over the national drug trade.

Nevertheless, with the drugs apparently heading to Brazil before moving on to Africa, it is likely that this group was working alongside a Brazilian criminal organization.  Both the First Capital Command (PCC) and Red Command (CV) are known to maintain a presence in Paraguay and the CV reported to ship one ton of cocaine out of the country each month.

While little more has been reported on the Mozambique connection, the East African nation is a prominent drug transshipment point, with the continent a popular transit point for drugs destined for Europe.

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