By Richard Mann, Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Last year, 41,687 people were caught in the act of trafficking, representing 33 percent, or one third, of all 123,765 arrests of this nature accounted for in the São Paulo municipalities, considering all criminal denominations.

Methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth. (Photo Alamy)

According to data provided by Governor João Doria’s (PSDB) administration, the state recorded an average of one arrest for drug trafficking every 10 minutes in 2018.

This equals 142 arrests a day. These figures also consider the two types of arrest: in flagrante delicto and by warrant.

The proportion of arrests for drug trafficking based on judicial warrants in relation to the total number of arrests of this type is much lower than that recorded among the flagrant: 13 percent of the 77,511 suspects arrested by a court decision throughout the state last year were charged with drug trafficking.

According to Rafael Alcadipani, professor of the Getúlio Vargas Foundation of São Paulo and member of the Brazilian Forum of Public Security, the data “is quite alarming”.

“We can’t pinpoint what kind of trafficker we’re dealing with. Are we referring to the small-scale trafficker or the big drug trafficking gangs? There is a significant chance that we are only filling up prisons with small traffickers, who are essentially not so violent and once released, they will have become so. This could be a shot in the foot for the public safety system, as we have brought in more people into the criminal factions dominating prisons. This is why we insist so strongly on the need to conduct effective arrests wisely, which in turn dismantles big gangs.”

In the period mentioned by the report [from 2016 to 2018], in addition to the increase of arrests, drug seizures also rose. There were 588 tonnes seized between 2016 and 2018 against 282 in the previous three years.


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