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A worker carries packages of goods to send outside the country, Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, May 13, 2015 (AP photo by Jorge Saenz).

Behind Drugs’ Glare, Paraguay’s Illegal Cigarette Trade Flourishes

, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015

On Sept. 15, police in Paraguay seized 650 kilograms of marijuana in Curuguaty, in the country’s southeast region near the border with Brazil. Substantial as this seizure was, it was not in itself a big story in a country where authorities claimed they seized 462 tons of marijuana in 2013. Paraguay is notoriously one of the largest producers of marijuana in Latin America.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Paraguay has in recent years produced approximately half of South America’s marijuana, second only in Latin America to Mexico. The estimated 600 metric tons of marijuana cultivated in 2008—the latest U.N. estimate on record—represented roughly 15 percent of the entire world’s production. Paraguay’s eastern border region, where 75 percent of the country’s marijuana comes from, according to the UNODC, is conveniently located at the border with Brazil and Argentina, two of South America’s largest markets, and is a key hub for the marijuana trade, as well as cocaine trafficking. ...

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