Pubdate: Fri, 24 Sep 1999
Source: Reuters
Copyright: 1999 Reuters Limited.


BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil and Peru are going to join forces to fight the
growing penetration of Peruvian drug cartels across the countries' Amazon
jungle border, a senior official said Friday.

The announcement came as the arrest this week of a Brazilian lawmaker on
allegations he ran a death squad with links to a drug ring in the border
state of Acre highlighted rising ties with Brazil's Amazon by regional drug

``Peru is doing an excellent job in eradicating coca crops with crop
substitution programmes and that is pushing the drug cartels toward the
border region with Brazil,'' Walter Maierovitch, Brazil's drug secretary,
told journalists.

Brazil's huge size -- it borders with every country in South America except
for two -- and vast Amazon basin makes effective frontier controls virtually
impossible in remote regions.

Brazil's two western-most states -- Acre and Amazonas -- that nestle deep in
the jungle, just out from the rest of the country to the borders with
Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.

Significant programmes in Peru and Bolivia to cut the production of coca
leaf, which is used to make cocaine, has increasingly sent drug producers
there to find new production areas and routes to U.S. and European buyers.

Brazil has become important for the flow of drugs from Colombia as well, as
air routes from Colombia to the United States have been effectively stopped.

Maierovitch said Acre and Amazonas have become points of entry to Brazil for
cocaine paste which is taken to Colombian laboratories to be refined.

In some cases, Brazilian Indian tribes with valuable knowledge of the
jungles have been recruited by the cartels to carry the drugs, he said.

There are three Peruvian cartels -- Cacique Rivera, The Crystal Cartel and
the Uncle Rios Cartel -- operating in the border areas, according to the

Maierovitch will travel to Lima Monday to sign an agreement with Peruvian
President Alberto Fujimori which will include exchanging information on drug
smuggling and joint border control operations.

This week's arrest of Brazilian lawmaker Hildebrando Pascoal on allegations
that he controlled a death squad which facilitated drugs smuggling when he
was Acre's military policy chief has drawn attention to Brazil's increasing
strategic importance for drugs producers.

A damning report approved this week by a congressional commission
investigating drug running in Acre pointed to a ring of criminals in the
state's police as being involved in the drugs trade with bordering countries.

The report accused 28 people -- including Pascoal, his brother and two of
his cousins -- of being members of an international crime ring.

Twenty people mentioned in the report were arrested in Acre Thursday and
were due to be flown to jails in capital Brasilia Friday.

Pascoal has denied accusations of murder and torture but has admitted he
handed out passes allowing people to go through police checkpoints without
being searched.

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MAP posted-by: Jo-D