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Brazil Convicts Drug Lord

A Brazilian court has sentenced Colombian drug lord Juan Carlos Ramirez-Abadia to thirty years in prison. Ramirez-Abadia – who goes by the nickname “Lollypop” – was convicted on money-laundering, conspiracy, and corruption charges.

The U.S. State Department, in its annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, describes Ramirez-Abadia as “a notorious Colombian drug cartel leader whose multi-billion dollar drug and money laundering ring stretches from the United States to Europe.” The U.S. has praised Brazil for the cooperation that led to Ramirez-Abadia’s capture.

Brazil has stepped up anti-drug cooperation with the United States, and also with the neighbors along its long borders. Brazil does continue to be “a major transit country for illicit drugs,” according to the State Department, but “the government of Brazil made advances in its drug enforcement and prevention programs, including numerous seizures of illicit narcotics and weapons.”

Fighting the trade in cocaine and heroin is important for Brazil, and not only because of the impact that trade has around the world. Brazil “has a sizeable domestic demand for these and other drugs,” the State Department report says, and that demand feeds “the increasingly critical urban crime wave in Brazil’s two largest cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.”

Though Brazil is making progress enforcing drug-control laws, “official corruption is a problem and is a high priority for Brazilian law enforcement.” The State Department report notes that in September, the Brazilian Federal Police “arrested 52 Military Police officers from a single battalion in Rio de Janeiro,” charging them with being on the payroll of drug traffickers.

The focus of U.S. anti-drug policy with Brazil is “on identifying and dismantling international narcotics trafficking organizations,” and reducing the ease by which those groups can launder the money generated by their criminal activities. The U.S. State Department predicts “positive results in 2008 if Brazil continues its active cooperation.”