Brazil stops smuggling of gold from Venezuelan indigenous territories

The Federal Police have executed arrest and search and seizure orders

Published in 15/10/2021 - 15:31 By Pedro Peduzzi - Brasília

Brazil’s Federal Police today (Oct. 15) launched Operation La Cadena, with the purpose of dismantling a criminal organization believed to be involved in the illicit handling of gold from indigenous territories in Venezuela.

Approximately 70 federal agents are executing 40 warrants—four of which for preventive arrest, 14 for search and seizure, six for electronic monitoring, and 16 for seizure of assets.

Probes are said to have started early in April 2019, when a vehicle was spotted with a theft history and was approached by military cars in Pacaraima, Roraima state, on the border between Brazil and Venezuela.

“The driver was carrying roughly [$33 thousand] and stated the amounts would be used in the acquisition of gold of Venezuelan origin. He also remarked he had been making this purchase monthly for at least a year,” the police reported.

According to the investigators, the man was taken to the Federal Police, “who detected recorded links between the situation and the people probed under Operation Hesperides,” launched in 2019 to look into a criminal organization specializing in introducing Venezuelan gold into Brazil.

The police found that the individuals investigated smuggled gold as “scrap metal.” Illicit transactions may have amounted to billions, the police declared.

“The police inquiry indicates that the organization also irregularly exported bulky amounts of foodstuffs to the neighboring country, with payments believed to have been made in gold, brought to Brazil on the sly,” the note reads.

Roraima-based firms are said to have been used to make profits seem legal.

“There is evidence of the illegal import of over 100 kilos of Venezuelan gold, in addition to the concealment of the origin of over [$5.7 million],” the note states, adding that among the crimes committed by the suspects making up the criminal organization are smuggling, nonpayment of customs duty, tax evasion, and money laundering.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Graça Adjuto / Nira Foster

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