About 230 people participated in the International Seminar on Reducing the Supply of Illicit Drugs, held on December 7th and 8th, at the Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MJSP), in Brasília, with online transmission. For two days, national and international speakers and moderators debated the impacts of the covid-19 pandemic on the illicit drug market in Brazil and worldwide.
The event was held by the Center of Excellence for Reducing the Supply of Illicit Drugs (CdE), a project resulting from a partnership between the National Secretariat for Drug Policy and Asset Management (SENAD/MJSP), the United Nations Program for the Development (UNDP) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
In the first session of the seminar, the CoE presented the results of its first strategic study, entitled “Covid-19 and Drug Trafficking in Brazil: the adaptation of organized crime and the role of police forces in the pandemic”. The survey was developed in partnership with the Department of Research and Trend Analysis at UNODC in Vienna, Austria, and with the Secretariat for Integrated Operations (SEOPI/MJSP).
- Click here to learn more about the strategic study.
According to Clayton Bezerra, Deputy Secretary for Drug Policy and Asset Management, the study is in line with the Federal Government's new anti-drug policies. “The new National Drug Policy provides that the necessary means will be guaranteed to stimulate, encourage, carry out and ensure the permanent development of studies, researches and evaluations, which allow for a deepening of knowledge on the subject”, he said.
For the deputy resident representative of UNDP in Brazil, Carlos Arboleda, the production of knowledge is essential for countries seeking to integrate and improve their public policies. “In the field of drug policy, it could not be different. It is necessary to update trends in the fight against illicit drug trafficking and organized crime, with studies and evidence that allow for a better articulation of themes related to drug policies with the human development agenda”, he said.
In turn, the head of the UNODC Vienna Research and Trend Analysis Department, Angela Me, assured that the pandemic scenario brought to light the need to increasingly seek solid evidence. “What we see in terms of evidence of the impact of covid-19 at the international level, not surprisingly for us who have worked for so many years in the fight against organized crime, is that drug trafficking organizations have been quite versatile and resilient to the changes that covid-19 brought to our society”.
The event had two themed sessions. On the first day, the panel “Illicit drug trafficking and transnational organized crime: trends and developments in the covid-19 pandemic” addressed topics such as the resilience of criminal organizations during the pandemic.
The director of the Joint Research Center on Transnational Crime (Transcrime/Italy), Ernesto Savona, opened the debate with a presentation on organized crime before, during and after the covid-19 pandemic. Next, the Senior Asset Recovery Specialist at the Basel Institute of Governance (Peru), Dennis Cheng, spoke about the challenges for managing drug trafficking assets in the new global scenario. Finally, representing the Interpol Office in Brazil, Federal Police Chief Marcos Paulo Pimentel showed the impact of the pandemic on drug trafficking routes in Brazil.
On the second day, the session "Trends and threats of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) in Brazil and in the world — strategies and challenges" brought together experiences, research and data analysis on Early Warning Systems (SAR) and the threats of NPS , with the objective of building new knowledge networks on the subject.
The head of the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) New Drugs Section, Ana Gallegos, offered an overview of European countries on the impact of covid-19 on synthetic drugs and NPS. In turn, the Scientific Affairs officer of the Scientific and Laboratory Section of UNODC Vienna, Conor Crean, spoke about the global emergency represented by the NPS. The session was closed by the Executive Director of the Center for Research and Education in Forensic Science of the United States, Barry Logan, who showed preventive actions in the fight against NPS, focusing on lessons learned during the covid-19 pandemic.
At the closing ceremony of the event, the General Coordinator of Investments, Projects, Monitoring and Evaluation of SENAD/MJSP), Gustavo Camilo Baptista, stated that the experience of the strategic study of the CoE is a watershed within the Brazilian drug policy. "We have strong evidence in the area of drug supply reduction to design policies, to verify the new challenges of drug policy in the coming years, as well as to be able to base future evaluations on the performance of the policy, on the results obtained for a policy that it is so controversial and at the same time it is so important in the Brazilian context”, he stated.
In turn, the Director of UNODC in Brazil, Elena Abbati, congratulated SENAD for the CoE project and drew attention to the study's results, such as geospatial analyzes and the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic. “The publication of the CoE's strategic study, together with the exchange of information provided by this seminar, demonstrate the need to join efforts to promote and strengthen close international cooperation in order to tackle transnational organized crime in an articulated manner, opening space for new dialogues , exchanges and partnerships.