Artur Vaz spoke to journalists on the sidelines of the opening session of the Seminar on Cross-border Drug Trafficking – Caravela Project, held at the headquarters of the Polícia Judiciária (PJ), in Lisbon, with the presence of the Attorney General, Lucília Gago, the national director of the PJ, Luís Neves, and the director of the department of drug combat of the Federal Police of Brazil, Elvis Secco, among others.

According to Artur Vaz, Portugal, the countries geographical position and the existence of special relations with Latin American countries, namely Brazil, leads international criminal organisations to paralyse many of the transport structures with large quantities of cocaine between the two continents across the Portuguese maritime and air borders.

Confronted with the fact that Brazil is an important point of passage for much of the cocaine that transits through Portugal, to reach other European countries, Elvis Secco noted that Brazil has more than 16,000 kilometres of border with the three cocaine-producing countries - Bolivia, Peru and Colombia -, also bordering Paraguay, which is now the main producer of marijuana/cannabis.

The director of the Brazilian Federal Police said that cocaine sent by sea to Europe and South Africa makes enormous profits for criminal organisations, as a result of the ‘absurd’ difference in price between one kilogram of cocaine in a producing country and a country in Europe.

Luís Neves said drug trafficking (namely cocaine) and subsequent consumption are worrying at various levels, not only as criminal activity but also worrying about the profits it generates and the way it distorts the economy and encourages and facilitates other crimes, including money laundering and corruption of the state apparatus and structures.

On the other hand, he said that the trafficking and use of cocaine and other drugs creates a public health problem while consuming a substantial part of states’ budgets.

The use of the proceeds of drug trafficking in the financial and logistical support of terrorism was another aspect mentioned by Luís Neves.
He pointed out the Atlantic Ocean and Africa as privileged areas for transportation and transit of cocaine trafficked by the major drug traffickers and also pointed out the importance of direct police cooperation with Brazil and other international bodies (Europol, Interpol, MAOC) in a fight that has to be done globally.

In her speech at the ceremony, Lucília Gago stressed that the ‘modus operandi’ of international drug trafficking requires information sharing between the countries involved in an early, rapid, timely and effective way, also pointing to the danger that drug trafficking could finance terrorism.

The seminar takes place at a time when the Portuguese and Spanish police have recently made important seizures of cocaine on Portuguese soil and in Galician waters, respectively.