Brazil Targets Clandestine Workshops for Drug Trafficking Helicopters

Published: 08 February 2024

Hendmade Trafficking Helicopters BrazilTwo helicopters were confiscated during search warrants executed in two municipalities in the state of Goias, Brazil. (Photo: Polícia Federal, License)

By Lieth Carrillo

Brazil's Federal Police seized six helicopters and several helicopter parts in an operation that targeted clandestine workshops where aircraft used for transporting drugs were constructed and maintained.

The investigation into such workshops was initiated last August after the arrest of an international drug trafficker on a farm in a municipality in the state of Goiás, located in the center of the country. He was caught with approximately 406 kilos of cocaine and two helicopters.

The clandestine helicopter workshops with heliports that were targeted on Monday where located in the municipalities of Inhumas and Goianira, in Goiás State. The aircraft were used by international organized groups to bring drugs from abroad into the state of Goiás from where they were and distributed.

This is not the first operation of this kind. In 2021 the Goiás Civil Police seized seven planes and arrested four individuals for transporting drugs. Another aircraft belonging to the same criminal group was intercepted by the Colombian Air Force while flying over that country.

Some of the pilots involved in this type of drug flights are repeated offenders. For example, a pilot arrested in Goiás trafficking drugs in 2020 was arrested but escaped and was discovered months later piloting another drug flight.

Brazil is one of only six countries in the world that manufactures commercial aircraft and has the fifth largest airspace in the world. Also, aerospace products and parts is the second-largest sector for U.S. exports to Brazil, according to the International Trade Administration. This offers a perfect environment for organized crime groups looking to purchase and built aircraft at low cost and without drawing too much attention.