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Group suspected of smuggling beverages from Argentina and Uruguay is targeted by PF in four states

A group accused of smuggling alcoholic beverages from Argentina and Uruguay into Brazil was the target of a Federal Police operation on Thursday morning (30) in cities in Rio Grande do Sul, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais.

 

Fifty search and seizure warrants are being carried out, five preventive detention warrants, 22 precautionary measures to replace detention, as well as the seizure of 133 vehicles and 30 properties, valued at a total of BRL 20 million. Until this report was last updated at midday on Thursday, four people had been arrested, according to the PF, in Venâncio Aires (two), Arroio do Sal and Belo Horizonte.

 

According to the Federal Police, which had the support of the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPF), the Civil Police, the Brazilian Federal Revenue Service, the Military Brigade and the Superintendence of Penitentiary Services (SUSEPE), the nucleus of the criminal organisation was based in the Taquari Valley region of Rio Grande do Sul and controlled the illegal entry of spirits and wines across the borders with Argentina and Uruguay.

 

The investigation shows that the criminal group has been operating since January 2019 and has moved more than BRL 62 million through the sale of alcoholic beverages that entered Brazil illegally.

 

In addition to smuggling, the suspects targeted in the operation may also be charged with money laundering, currency evasion and false documents.

 

The operation carried out warrants in the cities of Venâncio Aires, Lajeado, Estrela, Cruzeiro do Sul, Aceguá, Bagé, Jaguarão, Pelotas and Morro Redondo, as well as the cities of São Paulo and Tarumã, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte.

 

According to the PF, the group relied on the collaboration of suppliers and intermediaries to buy products directly from free shop owners in Uruguay or from wine shops in Argentina.Payment was made in cash or through “doleiros”.After entering Brazil, the beverages were transported to the group’s warehouses and shipped to large wholesalers in the states of Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The cargo was transported in the group’s lorries and trailers, hidden under products such as grains and fruit. Another way in which the goods were sent was via transport companies, using false invoices.

 

In addition, the organisation received payments through bank accounts belonging to ” shell” companies, such as car dealerships and rental companies, construction companies, petrol stations and the cigarette industry. According to the PF, the owners of these companies hid the illicit amounts in the midst of legitimate funds from their companies.

 

Search warrants issued, by municipality:

 

In RS

 

Venâncio Aires – 14

 

Lajeado – 2

Estrela – 1

Cruzeiro do Sul – 4

Aceguá – 1

Bagé – 2

Jaguarão – 4

Pelotas – 4

Morro Redondo – 1

 

Other states:

 

São Paulo (SP) – 4

Tarumã (SP) – 1

Rio de Janeiro (RJ) – 8

Belo Horizonte (MG) – 4


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