In Colombia, a concerning alliance has emerged between dissident factions of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Brazilian criminal groups, notably the First Capital Command (PCC), transforming the Amazon into an ideal route for international cocaine trafficking.
Colombian Cocaine Routes
Documents obtained by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) from the Colombian Army have exposed the intricate paths of cocaine trafficking. The journey of the drug begins in Colombia, passes through Manaus in Brazil, moves to the Caribbean, and eventually reaches consumers in Europe. This revelation came to light following a joint investigation initiated in 2020 by the Colombian Army, Brazilian Federal Police, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The Amazon as a Trafficking Hub
The investigation highlights how the Amazon region, particularly the Vaupés River, serves as a critical transit point for narcotics. Cocaine is transported from Colombia into Brazil via this river and then distributed to both the Brazilian domestic market and international destinations. The port of Barcarena in the state of Pará is a key location for shipping these drugs abroad. Additionally, the reports suggest that the PCC has been instrumental in moving Colombian cocaine to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, potentially using airplanes, and from there to European ports.
Environmental Crimes in the Amazon
Apart from drug trafficking, criminal organizations are also engaging in illegal mining, coca cultivation, and timber trafficking, causing extensive damage to the Amazon. A report by InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute, entitled Stolen Amazon: The Roots of Environmental Crime in the Tri-Border Regions, delves into the environmental crimes occurring at the Brazil-Colombia-Venezuela and Brazil-Peru-Colombia borders. These activities are not only a threat to the environment but also bolster the infrastructure for drug trafficking.
Record Drug Seizure and Crackdown on Illegal Mining
In a significant operation, the Brazilian Federal Police seized 1.2 tons of drugs, including skunk and cocaine, along with firearms, on the border between the Brazilian states of Amazonas and Roraima. This seizure, involving the arrest of Colombians and Brazilians, marked a record in the state of Amazonas.
In response to the rising crime in the Amazon, Brazilian authorities have intensified efforts against illegal mining, particularly in the Yanomami Indigenous Land. These efforts have led to a substantial decrease in the area affected by illegal mining activities.
Collaboration between Colombian and Brazilian groups in Cocaine trafficking
This collaboration between FARC dissidents in Colombia and Brazilian criminal groups underscores the complex and evolving nature of international cocaine trafficking, with the Amazon region emerging as a critical nexus in these illicit operations.
The environmental impact of these activities, coupled with the challenges in curbing them, highlights the need for continued vigilance and international cooperation in addressing these issues.