In an operation dubbed Weak Flesh, the Federal Police is probing into the involvement of regulators from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA, in the original Portuguese acronym) in a scheme of irregular licenses and inspections of meatpackers. The crackdown was launched today (Mar. 17).
Some of the country's main groups in the sector have been targeted under the operation—among them BRF, which controls such brands as Sadia, and Perdigão; and JBS, with Seara, Swift, Friboi, and Vigor. A federal judge in the southern state of Paraná ruled the freezing of $320 million of the companies brought under investigation.
The crackdown is the biggest operation conducted by the police in numbers, according to their own data. Some 1,100 federal agents are serving 309 court warrants in seven states—27 for preventive arrest, 11 for temporary arrest, 77 for detention for questioning, and 194 for search and seizure in homes and offices belonging to the investigated. Also carried out were raids at the companies involved.
In almost two years of probes it was uncovered that the local officials linked to the ministry in the states of Paraná, Minas Gerais, and Goiás were actively involved in protecting those business groups to the detriment of collective interests.
Public officials involved in the scheme, investigators believe, availed themselves of their position in law enforcement to facilitate the production of adulterated foods through bribes, with the issuance of sanitary reports without any actual inspection.
Translated by Fabrício Ferreira