Brazil takes aim at crime in border areas
Looking ahead to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, the Brazilian Ministry of Defense sent 7,500 troops to the country's northwest borders with Peru and Bolivia for another in a series of crackdowns on "cross-border crimes."
The operation, nicknamed Agata 6, is expected to last two weeks.
This is the sixth time that Brazilian soldiers, backed by fighter jets, combat helicopters, patrol boats and armored vehicles, are taking over parts of the country's vast border areas to fight crime alongside the local population.
So far, the Agata missions have seizing more than 332 kilograms of marijuana, 19.5 kilograms of cocaine, and 11,730 kilograms of explosives.
Heading the operation is the chief of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces of Brazil, Gen. Jose Carlos De Nardi.
The Brazilian government hopes the military show of force through the Agata operations will increase the feeling of security among the population and deter crimes that go beyond drug and arms trafficking and smuggling.
"In each area there is a specific type of offense," De Nardi said. "While in the south there is, for example, animal theft and smuggling, in the central-west we have drug trafficking and in the north gold mining, timber smuggling and arms trafficking. The important thing is that Operation Agata enables the armed forces to map all cross-border crimes."
Before launching the operation, Brazilian Minister of Defense Celso Amorim informed the governments of Bolivia and Peru and encouraged them to send their own observers in an effort to increase South American cooperation in defense missions.
Part of the military deployment will also focus on bringing social projects to the country's biggest allies along the border -- the local, mostly rural population. The first five Agata operations have provided more than 14,500 dental and 18,500 medical services to people within Brazil's border regions, officials say.
The operations also provide the local population with vaccines and medications.
Amorim said that the Ministry of Defense, which launched the Agata program in 2011, is planning to carry out at least three more deployments in 2013.
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