Viewing cable 08BRASILIA1588
Title: BRAZIL: DRUG TRAFFICKING UP, DRUG FLIGHTS DOWN,

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08BRASILIA15882008-12-12 15:26:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Brasilia
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R 121526Z DEC 08
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 BRASILIA 001588 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
FBI FOR CID 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: SNAR SOCI KCRM ELAB FARC KTIP BR VE PE CO XR
SUBJECT: BRAZIL: DRUG TRAFFICKING UP, DRUG FLIGHTS DOWN, 
TIP ISSUES LIMITED: A REPORT FROM THE FAR NORTH 
 
REF: A. BRASILIA 1175 (NOTAL) 
     ¶B. BRASILIA 1201 (NOTAL) 
     ¶C. BRASILIA 1357 (NOTAL) 
     ¶D. BRASILIA 1358 (NOTAL) 
     ¶E. BRASILIA 1415 (NOTAL) 
     ¶F. BRASILIA 1488 (NOTAL) 
     ¶G. BRASILIA 1489 (NOTAL) 
 
BRASILIA 00001588  001.2 OF 004 
 
 
¶1.  (SBU)  Summary.  Drug flights into Brazil's far north 
have diminished by 75 percent since the introduction of 
Brazil's Air Bridge Denial (shootdown) program, but Brazilian 
authorities say pressure from Plan Colombia has actually 
increased the amount of cocaine entering Brazil.  The region 
remains a cocaine transit point on the route from Colombia to 
southern Brazil, Europe, or the U.S., but shipment routes 
have shifted from land and air to rivers.  The greatest 
internal law enforcement challenge is personnel, and police 
are hiring more agents and providing more training.  The 
local drugs of choice in Brazil's north are cocaine paste and 
Brazilian and Paraguayan marijuana, mainly because they are 
cheap.  Authorities said organized crime and money laundering 
are not significant problems in Amazonas or Roraima; they 
give a comparatively low priority to trafficking in persons 
and forced labor, and recognize that child labor exists in 
mining camps.  End summary. 
 
Drug trafficking 
- - - - - - - - - 
 
¶2.  (SBU)  Emboff travelled to Manaus and Boa Vista in early 
October to discuss drug trafficking and other criminal 
activities with police officials and prosecutors.  (Note: 
Mission will report septel on indigenous issues in the 
region.  End note.)  Sergio Fontes, Amazonas Federal Police 
(PFAM) superintendent and a specialist in counternarcotics 
law enforcement, said drug flights into Brazil's far north 
have diminished by 75 percent since the introduction of the 
shootdown program, but pressure from Plan Colombia has 
actually increased the amount of cocaine entering Brazil. 
According to leading Brazilian newsweekly Veja, 70 percent of 
the cocaine entering Brazil comes through the 
Peru-Colombia-Brazil triborder region (Veja, Sept. 10, 2008, 
pp. 58-59).  While the region is a key cocaine transit point 
on the route from Peru and Colombia to southern Brazil, 
Europe, or the U.S., shipment routes have shifted from land 
and air to rivers, although drugs also enter by land on a 
circuitous route from Colombia through Venezuela to Brazil's 
northernmost border in Roraima.  Refs A-G document recent 
large riverine seizures in Amazonas, airport seizures of 
small amounts bound for Europe, and plans to export cocaine 
from Brazil to Guyana and Suriname by light aircraft.  On 
December 2, 2008, federal police made an unusually large 
riverine seizure of 581 kilograms of cocaine in Amazonas. 
Mission DEA believes USG donations of communications 
intercept equipment are directly responsible for many 
seizures and arrests in the Amazon river area. 
 
¶3.  (SBU)  At a meeting at the Public Ministry of Roraima, 
there was general agreement among Attorney-General Alessandro 
Tramujas Assad and four state prosecutors that drug 
transshipment through Venezuela is possible because the 
Colombia-Venezuela border is not patrolled, the Venezuelan 
National Guard is corrupt, and, some speculated, President 
Hugo Chavez "is looking the other way."  They noted that the 
FARC control the Colombian side of the border.  According to 
the prosecutors, the traffickers are mainly Brazilians, 
followed by some Colombians and the occasional Nigerian. 
Fontes said that, as transshipments have increased, so has 
consumption in Brazil, although interdiction efforts seem to 
 
BRASILIA 00001588  002.2 OF 004 
 
 
have caused traffickers to make smaller shipments.  Large 
seizures are now rare, and a typical seizure now is about 100 
to 200 kilos, he explained.  About 30 percent of the cocaine 
entering Brazil is street quality.  Amazonas State Secretary 
of Public Safety Francisco Sa Cavalcante said another 
transshipment method is on cars loaded on trucks that transit 
Santa Elena de Uairen, Venezuela, cross the border at 
Pacaraima, Brazil, and eventually reach Sao Paulo.  Fontes 
and Cavalcante said there is little organized crime in 
Amazonas, and state prosecutors in Roraima said money 
laundering is not a problem there.  Superintendent Fontes 
spoke highly of the excellent cooperation and good working 
relationship he has with Mission Brazil law enforcement 
elements. 
 
Other Drugs in the North 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - 
 
¶4.  (SBU)  According to Fontes, the most consumed illicit 
drugs in the north are cocaine paste and marijuana, both 
Paraguayan and Brazilian, and Roraima prosecutors said 
cocaine paste has become popular in Boa Vista.  There is 
little heroin in the north, it is expensive, and there is no 
market for it, while ecstasy is present only in small amounts. 
 
Police Challenges and Responses 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
 
¶5.  (SBU)  According to Fontes, the greatest challenge to 
Brazilian law enforcement is personnel, and the 1000 Federal 
Police officers in Amazonas are insufficient.  (Note: Mission 
DEA believes the number of PF agents in Amazonas may be much 
lower.  End note.)  The PFAM are trying to augment 
patrolling, including along the state's international border, 
where they have only five two-man posts and thirty men in 
Tabatinga, at the Brazil-Colombia-Peru triborder area.  The 
officers along the border are generally younger, less 
experienced, and need more experienced officers to help them. 
 At the same time there has been a drop in PF agents sent to 
Amazonas from other states, Fontes noted, and 120 PF agents 
are unavailable for border duty because they are needed in 
Manaus.  Cavalcante, the Secretary of Public Safety, told 
poloff that the state is addressing law enforcement 
challenges with a three-pronged strategy involving increases 
in personnel, internal controls, and intelligence.  He said 
the Amazonas military police (PM) number about 7000, but 
10,000 are needed.  The state hired 1000 new officers in 
2007, and stepped up training so that in 2008 40 percent of 
all military police will have graduated from the police 
academy.  He said the PM has 180 police station chiefs 
(delegados), 800 investigators, and 500 clerks (escrivaos), 
while the Amazonas Civil Police have 150 police station 
chiefs, 500 investigators, and 250 clerks.  Cavalcante 
created an in-house investigative unit, a screening council 
to increase internal controls, and a senior intelligence 
position, and he began increasing equipment purchases to beef 
up intelligence capabilities.  He noted that the state police 
owns a two-man helicopter and a Cessna 210 seaplane.  He said 
the secretariat still has no narcotics specialists, but he 
plans to hire some. 
 
Trafficking in persons, forced labor, and child labor 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
 
¶6.  (SBU)  Superintendent Fontes prioritized trafficking in 
persons as low on the scale among the problems he faces. 
When it occurs, it is mainly trafficking of women through the 
region to Venezuela or Guyana, and possibly from there to 
Europe, to work in prostitution.  He asserted that the 
 
BRASILIA 00001588  003.2 OF 004 
 
 
problem is much more serious in Para state, and many women 
are trafficked from there to Suriname to work as prostitutes. 
 Fontes and Cavalcante both noted that it is typical in 
Amazonas and Roraima for women and girls to go voluntarily to 
mining camps to work as prostitutes, and then, as the Roraima 
prosecutors pointed out, they may have no way to get back 
home.  (Note: Prostitution that does not involve a pimp, a 
brothel, or a minor is legal in Brazil.  End note.)  Fontes 
said slave labor and child labor both exist in mining camps, 
although slave labor is uncommon, while child labor is more 
common and is a cultural norm in northern Brazil.  He said 
the PFAM work closely with the labor police (delegacia do 
trabalho), which has no criminal enforcement authority, to 
address the issue.  He commented that slave labor and child 
labor are much more prevalent in Para than in Amazonas (post 
will report on conditions in Para septel). 
 
Brazil-Venezuela Border Crossing 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
 
¶7.  (SBU)  Poloff traveled to the Venezuelan border with 
Federal Police Agent Jesaias Portela to observe the crossing 
point and local conditions in Pacaraima and the surrounding 
area.  The border is about 215 kilometers from the state 
capital of Boa Vista along the BR 174, a federal highway that 
is in generally good condition.  Many Brazilians from Roraima 
travel up and down the BR 174 to go shopping in Santa Elena 
de Uairen, Venezuela, a duty free zone with inexpensive white 
goods and electronics.  Another attraction is the low price 
of gasoline in Venezuela, which has generated a black market 
in smuggled gasoline.  PF agents regularly seize pickups and 
even automobiles converted into small clandestine fuel 
tankers.  Smugglers have preferred the Ford Pampa pickup so 
much that locals call the gasoline smugglers "pampeiros." 
Brazilians may visit Santa Elena without a passport, but 
travel beyond requires processing by immigration officials. 
On the Brazilian side, there is an Army outpost, a Military 
Police station, a Federal Police station, which is 
responsible for immigration matters, and a small customs 
house.  A new customs building is nearly complete and will 
open soon, and will require vehicles to divert off the BR 174 
for inspection.  Presently, vehicular traffic crosses the 
border without leaving the BR 174, passing slowly over speed 
bumps but usually without stopping in front of the PF 
station, where an agent watches. 
 
¶8.  (SBU)  The border area is a free transit zone on both 
sides ) Venezuelans may enter Roraima without immigration 
processing ) and document checks are the exception, not the 
norm; poloff observed a constant stream of private cars, 
pickups, and commercial trucks crossing in both directions 
without being stopped.  Most of the private traffic appeared 
to be local, and there seemed to be more Brazilian than 
Venezuelan cars and pickups crossing, possibly because of 
Santa Elena's inexpensive shopping.  Travelers going beyond 
the free transit zone have their passports stamped inside the 
PF building.  A short distance away, the Venezuelan 
checkpoint is visible, where most vehicles appear to pass 
with few or no document checks.  PF agents told poloff that 
the PF will soon upgrade the Pacaraima border station and a 
more senior chief will be assigned because of the greater 
importance the crossing point has assumed for the GOB. 
 
¶9.  (SBU)  Comment, TIP and labor: Women who travel of their 
own volition to practice prostitution can become forced labor 
victims if they get caught up in a debt bondage situation or 
for various other reasons are are prevented from leaving of 
their own free will.  Local authorities fail to recognize 
that the women and girls who are unable to leave mining camps 
 
BRASILIA 00001588  004.2 OF 004 
 
 
are in effect trafficking and/or forced labor victims.  The 
authorities may be right in stating that in comparison with 
the neighboring state of Para, Amazonas has many fewer 
victims, but they underestimate the problem because they 
often fail to identify trafficking and forced labor 
violations in Amazonas as such. 
 
¶10.  (SBU)  Comment, drugs:  The Federal Police are doing 
yeoman's work with inadequate resources, and law enforcement 
officials in Amazonas and Roraima are working against 
significant regional challenges, such as drug trafficking 
facilitated by the FARC in Colombia and official corruption 
in Venezuela.  Drug traffickers will likely continue to bring 
in 70 percent or more of Brazil's cocaine through Amazonas as 
long as federal and state authorities lack the necessary 
manpower. 
SOBEL