Topic: Operação Delivery
Source: Federal Police (Brazil)
Police Action 17/11/14
Together with the federal tax authority, the Polícia Federal unleashed Operation Delivery in an effort to combat a criminal organization suspected of smuggling and distribution of cigarettes made in Paraguay.
Nearly 150 police and twelve personnel from the tax authority, as well four from the Internal Affairs Dvision of the federal highway police, served 35 search warrants in Paraná, Mato Grosso do Sul and São Paulo states.
During the investigations, initiated a year ago, 37 person have been arrested in flagrante delicto, 65 vehicles have been seized along with more than 24,000 crates of Paraguayan cigarettes — equivalent to some 12 million packs of cigarettes, an amount costing the federal government R$ 105 million in taxes evaded.
The G1 regional site reports that cigarettes are more profitable than drugs or gambling.
The business is so lucrative that it attracts the envy of robbers specializing in the hijacking of contraband. One witness says these criminals disguise themselves as federal police, wearing bulletproof vests and setting out safety cones to simulate inspections and rob cars.
The wholesaler shows us a cellular conversation with a client in Porto Alegre and says the buyers deposit their money with currency traders in BorderlandFoz do Iguaçu.
To evade the oversight of the federal tax authority, the scheme uses the Paraná River to enter Brasil from Paraguay. This is where the river fords and boatmen come in. The price is determined by how many packages of cigarettes make up a load. The price of the service is per crate of cigarettes transported. Each crate holds 500 packs.
We were able to catch up to these smugglers as they went about their work. One of the men says he charges R$ 20 per box. The illegal commerce crosses rivers in small boats. Some wholesalers offer a “complete” service: The sale, the crossing and the delivery.
In this way, the cigarette that comes from the other side of border ends up in downtown Porto Alegre or in the markets of nearby Alvorada, part of the metropolitan area.
“When you are talking about a high-value product, which requires a great deal of expertise to smuggle from one country to another, the logistics of transport and then a distribution of sales … it is practically a multinational corporation,” explains Luciano Stremel Barros, director of the Institute for Economic and Social Development of the Frontiers (above).
And as to the legal market for cigarettes: it is a duopoly and shameless rent-seeker currently facing a pioneering class action suit against the two: Souza Cruz and Philip Morris.
Filed under: Brazil