Spotlight News 5/17/2016

Hotspots For Forced Labor in Rondonia, Brazil

A local NGO in Brazil conducting analysis on rescues of forced laborers has identified the Cone Sul region and the cities of Chupinguaia, West Pimenteiras, Porto Velhoe, and Guajará-Mirim as hotspots for forced labor in the state of Rondonia. The NGO was able to identify the region and cities after analyzing the cases of 863 workers rescued from conditions similar to slavery in Rondonia between 1995 and 2014.

Rondonia does not suffer from as high of a rate of forced labor as other states in Brazil and did not rank in the top five states for most rescued workers. However, Rondonia continues to remain at risk from forced labor due to the prevalence of agriculture in the state, which is one of the industries of concern for forced labor in Brazil. 


Industry Group in Mexico State Reporting Increased Risk of Cargo Theft, Assaults, and Extortion

An industry group comprised of some of Mexico’s largest companies is reporting an increased risk of cargo theft, assaults, and extortion in the State of Mexico. One major international beverage company indicated that it had suffered at least 200 armed robberies against cargo trucks distributing its goods so far this year, while another beverage company reported that its drivers are forced to hand over extortion payments of about 8,000 pesos ($437) per week. A third food and beverage company indicated that its drivers are too afraid to launch complaints because they are being threatened by criminals. Industry group representatives revealed that more than 50 companies in the state of Mexico have been victims of similar crimes.

As a result of the increased risk, companies in Mexico State are investing in costly security measures including security cameras inside vehicles as well as property and employing security escorts or guards. The industry group also recently met with officials from the Attorney General of the State of Mexico to express their concerns over the increasing risk, and agreed to maintain communication in order to track issues as well as work toward developing a specific law enforcement division specializing in combatting cargo crime.

Mexico is consistently one of the riskiest areas for cargo theft in the country. Within the state, officials, including from this industry group, identify the Mexico-Queretaro Highway as being the riskiest road for cargo theft.


Police in the Federal District, Brazil Seize 8,000 Pairs of Counterfeit Shoes Produced in Country

Civil Police officers in the Federal District of Brazil seized about 8,000 pairs of counterfeit shoes estimated to be worth $228,500. Officers seized the fake shoes from a cargo truck that was transporting the footwear from Nova Serrana, Minas Gerais to a fair occurring in Taguatinga, Federal District. The driver of the cargo truck attempted to flee when he was approached by the police, who were plainclothes officers. The driver later claimed that he believed that he was going to be robbed since the officers were not wearing uniforms. Police arrested the driver and on charges of breaching trademark laws.

The threat of counterfeit production and exportation in Brazil is elevated, and the manufacture of fake apparel and footwear is known to occur in the area of Nova Serrana. According to the Brazilian Association for Combating Counterfeiting, over 60 percent of all counterfeit shoes sold in the country are produced domestically, more specifically in the cities of Nova Serrana, Minas Gerais, and Franca, Sao Paulo.

Authorities at the Port of Santos, Brazil have seized more than six tonnes of cocaine in 2016 so far, a record-breaking amount that already represents six times the amount of cocaine seized at the facility last year. Officials mostly seized the cocaine this year from sea container shipments of goods including agricultural products and construction materials intended for European countries. Customs officers attribute the higher volume of seizures to improved risk management and increased use of technology-based cargo scanning methods.