Guns, drugs and stolen cars were seized during an INTERPOL-coordinated operation targeting organized crime networks in the tri-border area between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, which also saw the arrest of a fugitive wanted for murder.
Throughout the operation, the first of its kind involving all three countries, more than 300 officers were deployed to key locations at and around the border control points.
Frontline officers carried out some 25,000 checks against INTERPOL’s global databases during the eight-day (1 – 8 April) operation, which resulted in 25 arrests, the seizure of 750 kg of drugs including marijuana and cocaine, and the recovery of 14 stolen vehicles.
Key locations were the Tancredo Neves International bridge between the Argentine city of Puerto Iguazú and Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil, and the Amistad International Bridge which joins Foz to Ciudad del Este in Paraguay and is crossed by more than 15,000 vehicles and 40,000 people every day.
Experts in drug trafficking, document security, counterfeit medicines, trafficking in human beings and stolen vehicles from the INTERPOL General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon and the INTERPOL Regional Bureau for South America in Buenos Aires were also deployed to provide on-site support.
An Italian man wanted in connection with a murder in Argentina in 2015 and who was the subject of an INTERPOL Red Notice was identified and arrested as he attempted to cross into Paraguay from Brazil. Some 400 kg of marijuana were discovered in a single car after the driver abandoned the vehicle at a police checkpoint and fled on foot.
A car recorded in INTERPOL’s Stolen Motor Vehicles database as stolen from Spain in June 2013 was recovered by federal police in Brazil. Further investigation revealed it was among nearly 100 cars smuggled into Paraguay and enquiries into the network involved are continuing.
Three men were arrested for firearms trafficking after eight automatic weapons were discovered hidden their car as they travelled into Brazil.
“Although we have been exchanging information on organized crime networks in the triple frontier area, this operation was the first time we coordinated our efforts on the ground,” said Argentine Federal Police Comisario Inspector Fabian Zabala. “INTERPOL’s support and coordination played an integral part in the operation’s success.”
“These results are as a result of the dedicated work of the officers on the ground and the excellent coordination and cooperation between the involved law enforcement agencies,” said Brazilian Federal Police Commissioner Fabiano Bordignon.
“The access to INTERPOL´s databases played an important role in the success of the operation and again has shown the need for international information exchange. Operations like this show what can be achieved when law enforcement agencies collaborate in the fight against organized crime,” said the Head of INTERPOL Brasilia, Commissioner Valdecy Urquiza Junior.
“This operation has resulted in a valuable exchange of experience and knowledge and will provide a strong platform for even closer cooperation to target organized crime networks in the future,” said Luis Arias Navarro, Head of INTERPOL Asuncion.
“Operations such as this are not just about arrests and seizures, they are also about the added value that INTERPOL brings to its member countries to strengthen national and regional law enforcement cooperation,” said Tim Morris, INTERPOL’s Executive Director for Police Services.
“When frontline officers have access to INTERPOL’s global network and databases, they can join the dots between investigations around the world which would otherwise go unnoticed, and we will continue to work with our member countries to encourage this model worldwide,” added Mr Morris.
In addition to the INTERPOL National Central Bureaus (NCBs) in Asuncion, Brasilia and Buenos Aires, the operation was supported by the Federal Police, National Gendarmerie, Airport Police and Navy Prefecture in Argentina, the Federal Police, Highway Police and Federal Revenue Service in Brazil, and the Paraguay National Police.