BRASILIA – Brazil seized 25.3 tons of cocaine bound for Europe and Africa in the first half of 2019, up more than 90 percent on the same period last year, officials said Monday.
Nearly half of the drugs were found at Santos port in southern Brazil, not far from where police recently arrested two men suspected of belonging to Italian mafia ‘Ndrangheta.
Customs officials attributed the increase in seizures to better intelligence and increased vigilance along Brazil’s borders.
“Last year we seized 31.4 tons of cocaine, a record that we will surely beat again,” Arthur Cazella told AFP.
The amount of cannabis confiscated more than doubled to 10.2 tons in the January-June period, up from 3.9 tons year-on-year.
Brazil, which has some 17,000 kilometers (10,500 miles)of land borders, is an important hub for international drug trafficking.
Drugs produced in Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela and Paraguay are smuggled into Brazil and then sent to mainly European markets.
Some routes to Africa are also opening up, Cazella said.
Cocaine seizures have soared in recent years, from 958 kilograms in 2014 to last year’s record 31.4 tons.