By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Federal Highway Police (PRF) seized more than twelve tons of drugs on the roads of the state of Rio de Janeiro between January and October of this year, which reflects a 327 percent increase from the same period in 2017, according to a statement released today (November 8th).
The number of arrests also increased, although less significantly by 2.6 percent. There were 156 arrests this year, compared to 152 in 2017 according to a government news agency.
In regard to the drug products found by the PRF, one of the most significant increases was cocaine. This year, two tons of the drug were seized, an amount thirteen times greater than last year (148 kilos).
The amount of marijuana collected was almost four times higher, from 2.8 tons in the first ten months of 2017 to 10.5 tons in the same period in 2018.
Other types of drugs with increased seizures were hashish (eleven kilos or 19 times more), ecstasy (1,033 units or six times more) and LSD (293 units or nineteen times more). Only the amount of crack decreased, from 10 to 9 pounds (-10 percent).
As of January this year, the PRF say they had arrested more than 10,000 people during the first 250 days of Operation Égide (Aegis) which started in July 2017.
The operation has been carried out on federal highways in the states bordering Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security to contain the smuggling of drugs and weapons to the country.
The actions of the PRF take place in three simultaneous stages: on federal highways that cross border states with Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina (Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Paraná and Mato Grosso do Sul); in major road corridors (Goiás, São Paulo and Minas Gerais); and in Rio de Janeiro.
Almost 500 agents have been mobilized to support the operation, along with the PRF administration staff in these states. The main route in Rio used by criminals to traffic drugs is the Presidente Dutra Highway (BR-116).