The millionaire smuggling business behind the theft of herbicides

The millionaire smuggling business behind the theft of herbicides

Tuesday, July 19, 2022 | 5:30 a.m.

The assault on a herbicide truck that occurred a week ago had a quick and satisfactory response from the Misiones Police, who managed to locate the vehicle in a Pozo Azul warehouse and recover 17,000 liters of the product it was transporting. The value of the cargo is close to 20 million pesos.

The incident occurred in the afternoon, near the so-called Banana bridge, in the jurisdiction of the town of Montecarlo. The asphalt pirates were traveling in a red car and intercepted the Iveco with long weapons. The 24-year-old truck driver was kidnapped and later thrown in an area of ​​vegetation with his hands tied and his head covered in Santiago de Liniers, as reported. He was only able to contact his family in the early hours of the morning.

The main hypothesis of the investigators who intervened in the event indicates that the theft of the cargo could have been a “Mexican”, that is, stolen by a gang that knew the movement of the merchandise. This is because it is also believed to be an illegal transport.

It was said that the product could not be used in Misiones, but consulted specialists pointed out that at least part of the cargo is not prohibited.

more than wine
So what could be the background behind this fact? The answer lies in Brazil and its contraband to that country. It is a multimillion-dollar business that even increased more than the marketing of top-brand wines, a maneuver for which similar events and even commissioned homicides have been recorded on the dry border.

It is that products such as paraquat, one of those that the truck was transporting, have been prohibited in Brazil since 2020. That is why Brazilian farmers, given the porosity of the border, acquire them from Argentina and also Paraguay, where they can be marketed freely.

According to Mark Tollemache (38), delegate of the Federal Revenue (the equivalent to the Afip) of Dionísio Cerqueira, in an interview with El Territorio carried out in his office in April, the seizures of agrochemicals in his jurisdiction increased by 1,400 percent in the period 2021 -2022 with respect to 2019 -2020.

Also, having the same reference, the increase in the seizure of the Argentine alcoholic beverage increased by 1,200 percent.

Tollemache explained that the mobilization of this product occurs in small trucks, which are for the producers in the area, or in large trucks, quantities that are distributed throughout the state of Paraná, São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Mato Grosso do Sul.

These seized vehicles and trucks are in the force shed and El Territorio witnessed how they accumulate. Even many of them cannot be manipulated due to the danger that this represents.

“In Argentina, the sale of certain concentrations of these products is prohibited, but the smugglers end up mixing them in containers. They remove the label and say that it is car oil, so they put black dyes in the product to go through inspection. That is a much greater danger, because if someone does not know it, they can touch it,” the official said.

In this sense, last Thursday the 14th, a truck with 6,000 liters of herbicides was seized in Santo Antonio do Sudoeste, a town that borders San Antonio, also in the north of the province. The procedure was carried out by members of the Brazilian Border Police Battalion.

According to media from the neighboring country, commissions were patrolling when they boarded the truck that had the semi-trailer covered with a tarpaulin. Inside, during an inspection, they found that he was carrying 300 drums of 20 liters each from Argentina, which were immediately seized.


A total of 969 drums were seized in Pozo Azul. Photo: Misiones Police

About the stolen truck in Montecarlo, Misiones Police investigators found it on Friday night in a farm in Pozo Azul. After the complaint, the force made a great deployment and land and air raids in different locations.

The main track, as they officially said from Headquarters, was achieved through the inspection of 911 cameras, in which the truck’s route could be established. “The investigators established that the authors were trying to cool the load, so they must have hidden the vehicle in a warehouse or farm. This is how the raking took them to a property in Pozo Azul, where they located the Mercedes Benz truck and its cargo valued at more than 18 million pesos,” they said.

These are 969 20-liter drums of herbicide, which had already been prepared to be removed from the site, while the truck had been camouflaged with tents between two buildings, they added. The search was carried out with the authorization of authorities from the Investigating Court in Eldorado.

Until yesterday, the search for the asphalt pirates continued, who have not yet been identified. The question that arises with this fact, of which there is no known history, is: will they attack again in search of this valuable product, just as it happens with wine?

What is the herbicide paraquat

Paraquat is a post-emergent herbicide used to control weeds in the field and as a pre-harvest defoliant for crops such as cotton and beans, among others, according to AGQ Labs.

Through the National Sanitary Surveillance Agency, Brazil established the prohibition of its use in any crop as of September 22, 2020.

In Argentina, it is registered by Senasa for olives, alfalfa, cotton, canary seed, rice, peas, bananas, sugar cane, cherries, plums, apricots, peaches, citrus fruits in general, sunflowers, lentils, corn, apples, quinces, nectarine, pear, beans, soybeans, sorghum, tea, wheat, table grapes and wine grapes and yerba mate.

In figures

6,000Seizures of agrochemicals increased by 1,400 percent, according to the Federal Revenue. On Thursday, 6,000 liters were seized.

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