Crime & Justice

Paraguay’s anti-narcotics unit seizes 450 kg of cocaine

Asunción, May 16 (EFE).- Paraguay’s National Anti-Drug Secretariat (Senad) confirmed that the bags of cocaine found on Sunday in a camp in the north of the country weighed 449 kilograms (990 pounds) with a value of $3 million on the local market and more than $6 million in other countries in the region.

Based on the statements of a Venezuelan man who claimed a few days ago to have been held hostage, allegedly by the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP), the same guerrilla group that kidnapped former Paraguayan vice president Óscar Denis in September 2020, members of National Anti-Drug Secretariat (Senad), the Joint Task Force (FTC), the National Police and the Attorney General’s Office entered a camp between the towns of Puerto Penasco and Vallemí on Sunday.

The officials found a secret runway and around 15 bags of cocaine at the site, which they moved to Senad’s operation base in Asunción, where the weight of the goods was confirmed and the value estimated.

The evidence also included seats and parts taken out of planes to increase loads, as well as stickers with different initials and numbers to change license plates.

The officials also found hoses that they say allow in-flight refueling to avoid landings and portable lights to illuminate runways at night, in addition to weapons and missiles.

Senad officials said that the camp is “a fairly well organized structure, with considerable logistics” needed to receive drugs suspected to be from Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, and then distribute them from the Paraguayan Chaco area to different parts of the country and Brazil.

The joint investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, Senad and the FTC was launched after a 29-year-old Venezuelan man claimed this week that he had been kidnapped by the EPP and gave details about his alleged place of captivity.

The man also claimed to have been in contact during that time with Denis, kidnapped by the EPP in September 2020, according to local media reports in recent days.

The Venezuelan national appeared in the Brazilian city of Punta Pora, bordering the Paraguayan town of Pedro Juan Cabellero, while Brazilian authorities were searching people on the streets.

The man, who had wounds on his hands and feet, told them what happened and Brazilian officials contacted their counterparts in Paraguay so that they could question him and verify his story.

His statements also served to continue investigations into the whereabouts of Denis, who has been held by the EPP since he was abducted at the border between the departments of Concepción and Amambay.

The family of the 75-year-old former vice-president has received no news of his whereabouts and has had no contact with the kidnappers since they contacted them a few days after the abduction to set the conditions for his release.

Among their demands was the release of two long-time EPP members and the delivery of $2 million worth of provisions to communities in the area.

Despite the family’s complying with the demand for the delivery of food, the EPP did not release Denis. EFE


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