Pubdate: 24 August 1999
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: Guardian Media Group 1999


Brazil's Amazon Indians face possibly their biggest threat yet from
Colombian drug traffickers, Brazil's drug secretary warned yesterday.

Cocaine traffickers - harassed by mounting military operations along
their air routes - have moved to the ground, "using the Indians to
transport coca paste directly to clandestine laboratories in
Colombia," Walter Maierovitch said.

Indians with their knowledge of the jungle are able to move by foot,
mule and canoe with little police interference, Brazilian officials

"They are being harassed into transporting drugs," said Roberto
Lustosa, a spokesman for the national Indian foundation, Funai. "Some
tribes are having their first outside contact with

For years, Colombian drug runners flew coca leaf and paste from secret
air strips in Peru to Colombian laboratories for processing. But
Peru's crackdown on drug planes has forced the traffickers to find
alternative routes.

The Clinton administration may soon increase economic and military aid
to Colombia to fight narcotics trafficking, a state department
spokesman said yesterday. The statement followed separate visits to
Colombia by the White House drug policy director, Barry McCaffrey, and
an undersecretary of state, Thomas Pickering.

"Colombia's needs are critical and we are exploring every avenue to
provide assistance," a state department spokesman said. But he would
not say how much additional aid Colombia might get.

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