Brazil arrests dozens and busts network which shipped millions of dollars in drugs to European ports
Several law enforcement departments in Brazil were involved in busting a criminal organization linked to international and interstate drug trafficking from the port of Paranaguá, along the Paraná river in the state of Parana. The operation under the code name Downfall included the Brazilian Federal Police, PF, the Civil Force from the state of Paraná and the Federal Revenue Office.
According to the Federal Police, the Paranagua port region was used to move drugs by criminal gangs, exporting large amounts of cocaine and other illicit drugs in containers, mainly to European ports. The police said that during the investigation 5.2 tons of cocaine were seized.
The administration of the Port of Paranaguá said it will not comment because the illegal operation occurred at the Paranagua Container Terminal (TCP), owned by private companies.
In all, 117 court orders were issued as part of the operation, with 30 preventive arrest warrants and 87 search and seizure warrants at addresses, besides Paraná, in seven other states: Santa Catarina, São Paulo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Mato Grosso, Rio de Janeiro, Goiás, and Espírito Santo.
The operation consisted of 500 police officers, with the support of 25 auditors from the Federal Revenue and Customs offices. The sequestration of property, blocking of assets, and financial investments, accumulated to an estimated value of more than one billion Reais, some US$ 200 million.
According to the Federal Police, the criminal organization had a well established logistical structure to operate interstate and internationally, producing drugs abroad, introducing and transporting them within Brazil, and finally preparing and shipping cocaine by sea.
According to the Federal Police, the drug produced by the group had as its main destination the ports of Europe. According to the Parana police, the criminal group hid the drugs in licit cargo and container coolers and used divers to insert the drugs in submerged compartments of the ships, among other methods.
The investigation also indicated that the criminal organization’s profits were being used for investments such as the purchase of aircraft, boats, companies, real estate, weapons, and ammunition.
Money laundering was also investigated by the operation Downfall, particularly investments in real estate along the Atlantic coast of Santa Catarina state, with the purchase of high-standard apartments and financing of other real estate projects.
Construction companies and companies involved in the scheme were also targets of the operation because, according to the investigation, they are suspected of conducting fraudulent or undeclared legal business.