Paraguay Indigenous Group Caught in Drug Violence

At least four members of an indigenous tribe in Paraguay have been killed in recent months by drug traffickers who use their region as a transshipment point, according to officials.

Members of the Pai Tavytera tribe, who live in a remote area of the northern region of Amambay, close to the border with Brazil, have called for state protection after the murder of a 22-year-old man at the hands of drug traffickers a week ago, reports ABC.

Villagers claim a gang of 15 drug traffickers raided their village in search of $1.8 million which disappeared after a drug plane crashed in the jungle region in September. According to the villagers, the traffickers threatened to carry out a massacre if the cash could not be recovered, and Sinecio Silva Quevedo was killed in the violence that ensued.

This is the fourth time since August that a member of the tribe has been killed in a confrontation with drug traffickers, according to tribal leaders and local politicians.

The governor of Amambay province, Juan Ramirez, agreed to travel to the remote region, accompanied by a number of other state officials, to meet with members of the tribe. During the meeting, tribal leader Elba Ramos Valiente told Ramirez how another 22-year-old, Lucio Quevedo, was murdered by drug traffickers in August after he witnessed drugs being unloaded from a plane.

As InSight Crime has reported, drug traffickers are increasingly transporting drugs from Bolivia to Brazil and Argentina through Paraguay. According to Cesar Guedes, Bolivia’s United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) representative, the decision to travel first through Paraguay is an attempt by smugglers to distract authorities from their movements.