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Brazil’s Borders Too Large and Unpoliced to Stop Cocaine from Bolivia and Colombia

The United States State Department annual report on Strategies to Control International Drug Traffic highlights efforts by Brazil, pointing out that the country reached record levels of drug apprehensions in 2005.

But the report goes on to call for improvements in border control, saying that there is "a minimum presence of police forces along Brazil’s borders."

The head of Brazil’s border operations at the Federal Police, Mauro Sposito, seconds the recommendation. "Our problems with lack of personnel are well known. We simply do not have enough people to do what we are supposed to do," he declared.

The US State Department report says that the 3,400 kilometer border with Bolivia has become the main gateway for drugs, especially cocaine, that are used domestically in Brazil.

Sposito says that means the states of Acre, Rondônia and Mato Grosso have become part of the main drug route and require special attention.

Colombia

The head of the Drug Repression Division at the Federal Police, Julio Bortolato, commenting on the annual report by the US State Department on international drug traffic, says that most of the drugs that are exported abroad through Brazil come across the border from Colombia in the Amazon region (most drugs for domestic use come from Bolivia).

Bortolato says market forces are at work determining how things work. Colombian drugs are in high demand because of better quality, he explains.

The drugs come into Brazil and get transported to the northeast region of the country where they are embarked to Europe, Africa or the Mideast.

The drugs [mainly quality cocaine] will eventually wind up in the hands of consumers with high purchasing power in Europe, the US or Asia.

"There are various routes. One of them is through Brazil. That is why we are trying to tighten our control of the air space and rivers in the Amazon region near the border with Colombia," declared Bortolato.

But once again market forces come into play. Bortolato goes on to explain that with greater control of the border with Colombia and Bolivia, drug traffic has picked up along the border with Paraguay.

It is a question of demand. "Until a few years ago, Paraguay just produced marijuana. Now it has become a big cocaine distributor," says Bortolato.

Brazil has 29 border control posts on its borders with Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. Posts will soon be placed on the Paraguay border.

The US Department of State report praises Brazil for its use of intelligence and the new law that permits the Brazilian Air Force to shoot down suspicious aircraft.

Agência Brasil

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