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Brazil Calls for Cooperation in Drug Interdiction

Brazil's president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is asking neighboring countries to join forces the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime. The president's appeal follows a recent report showing the flow of drugs from Colombia, through Paraguay into Brazil is rising.

Speaking in a national radio address Monday, Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva asked neighboring countries to work together to combat drug trafficking and organized crime. He says fighting illegal drugs and crime should be a regional effort.

The president said other countries should get involved in the fight against illegal drugs.

Mr. da Silva's appeal follows a recent front-page newspaper report detailing an intricate drug smuggling ring involving neighboring countries Colombia and Paraguay.

National newspaper O Globo reported Colombian rebels are flying tons of cocaine to Paraguay each year. The drugs are then driven across the porous border into western Brazil. From there, the illegal narcotics make their way to Brazil's major cities for local distribution and for shipment to Europe and elsewhere.

According to O Globo, leftist rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, are shipping 40-60 metric tons of cocaine annually to farms in Paraguay owned by Brazilian druglords. In exchange for drugs, the newspaper reports, the Brazilians supply the Colombian rebels with guns and other weapons.

The FARC has been fighting the Colombian government for over 40 years.

Before his arrest in November 2004 in Paraguay, Brazilian druglord Ivan Carlos Mendes Mesquita was the main link between the FARC and the Brazilian drug trade. The U.S. government has called his capture a significant accomplishment.