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Research Project: Mapping Criminal Organizations and Terrorist Groups in Brazil

TRAC's ongoing research project, conducted under the guidance of Dr. Rashmi Singh and funded by the Research Incentive Fund (Fundo de Incentivo à Pesquisa - FIP) from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais (PUC Minas), exemplifies our commitment to in-depth analysis and understanding of complex issues. The project "Mapping Criminal Organizations and Terrorist Groups in Brazil", ran throughout 2022, and enlisted the dedicated contributions of research interns Lucas Terra, Luiz Corrêa, and Yuri Freitas.

It aims to identify the innovation and modus operandi of actors operating within Brazilian territory, focusing particularly on the border regions of Paraná and Mato Grosso do Sul. The goal is to gain a detailed understanding of how these areas serve as focal points for the transportation of specific illegal goods, including drugs, weapons, wildlife, flora, tobacco, cigarettes, and human trafficking.

The project seeks not only to identify the context in which these illicit trades and transactions occur but also to map the routes used across the mentioned Brazilian states. For instance, it was found that criminal organizations widely utilize routes BR163 and BR277 in the states of Mato Grosso do Sul and Paraná for their illegal activities. The study also extends beyond these identified routes to understand how Paraguay plays a role in facilitating this illegal trade.

The research strategy began with the collection of secondary bibliographic sources. After gathering data from these sources, the research was triangulated with ongoing projects related to the triple border area and criminal organizations such as the First Capital Command (PCC), Red Command (CV), Family of the North, and their affiliates across Brazil. Once all this data was collected, coordinated, and analyzed, remaining gaps were filled through interviews with government officials, government agencies, and field experts. These interviews provided greater insight into how these actors operate within the studied field.

The impact of this project extends to a broad audience, not limited to academics working in the field. It reaches professionals from various organizations and government agencies who can benefit from a better understanding of the security challenges faced on Brazil's borders. The empirical approach proposed in this project will have a direct impact on the capabilities, policies, and practices of relevant institutions, aiding in the development of understanding and further research within the academic community.

The project's reach also extends to other stakeholders within the geographical area of impact. It will improve not only Brazil's understanding of these challenges but also shed light on regional impacts and how different centers of illicit activity may benefit from a better comprehension of border roles in illegal commercial activity.


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