PF wants Armed Forces in Foz do Iguaçu


Ney de Souza / Press Release
Federal Revenue Deposit in Foz do Iguaçu with smuggled goods seized

By Mari Tortato, Agência Folha, Foz do Iguaçu - FSP, 30/11/2004

The Federal Police want the federal government to send men from the Armed Forces to reinforce the fight against the smuggling of goods from Paraguay to Brazil, in Foz do Iguaçu (PR).

"[The presence] of the Armed Forces is one of our longings," said the chief delegate of the PF in Foz, Geraldo Pereira. Since a tightening of control over the Amizade bridge, on the border between Foz and Ciudad del Este, in Paraguay, this month, the bridge has been blocked by Paraguayan traders and motorcycle taxi drivers, and Brazilian police and inspectors have faced protests by sacoleiros.

According to the superintendent of the Federal Revenue for Paraná and Santa Catarina, Luiz Bernardi, US $ 150 million (R $ 405 million) is what represents the volume of seizures of goods smuggled in both states. Paraná gets 70% of this volume. In Foz alone, until October, seizures totaled US $ 23,19 million (R $ 62,6 million). What was once an activity of small buyers of toys and electronics has become a business dominated by traffickers and smugglers, who turn over US $ 1,5 billion (R $ 4,05 billion) a year, according to the authorities.

"In a little while, we will have a region like Rio de Janeiro [where the traffickers control the hills], to continue so much freedom in this drug trade," said delegate Pereira, defending army troops in Foz until the end of the Operation Cataracts, to fight smuggling.

The delegate says that the sacoleiro market, in which buses travel in convoys of up to 400 vehicles to escape inspection, “became a conspiracy”.

Federal deputy Luiz Antônio Medeiros (PL-SP), who chaired the Piracy CPI in the Chamber, also defended the presence of the Armed Forces in the region.

The statements came during the presentation, by ABCF (Brazilian Association to Combat Counterfeiting, which brings together the large Brazilian companies injured), of cigarette smuggling numbers, a product that leads the list of piracy in Brazil.

According to ABCF, tax evasion in Brazil is R $ 1,4 billion a year with counterfeit cigarettes. Factories installed in Paraguay are the largest suppliers in the sector.

The Ministries of Defense and Justice are still examining the possibility of sending troops to the region. As it is a border area, where the military's actions are already supported by the Constitution, the procedure would be simpler.