Havocscope is a web project that monitors everything published about the black market and other contraventions. Drug, animal or organ traffic, illegal logging and child prostitution, music piracy – you name it. Of course, considering the secret nature of these businesses, you have to take these numbers with a grain of salt, but it is still enlightening to compare their financial power and health to those of mainstream economy.
According to the website, Brazilian black market value is estimated in 17 billion dollars (they offer a table that details how they reached this number).
Here are some basic information, linked to the original sources:
According to the United Nations Office on Crime and Drugs, there are between 900,000 to 1,000,000 users of illegal drugs in the country. The source is an article published a few days ago by the Malaysian National News Agency:
According to a report published this week by the United Nations Office of Drug and Crime (UNODC) on cocaine trafficking, Brazil is currently the third largest intermediate for cocaine seized in Europe, just after Venezuela and Ecuador…Brazil’s role on drug trafficking to Europe has increased in terms of seizures, which registered 25 cases in 2005 and 260 cases in 2009, said the report.
Figures showed that Brazil, besides its growing role in the international drug trafficking, also witnessed growing consumption. In 2004, the Brazilian police seized eight tons of cocaine, while the tonnage surged to 24 in 2009, according to the UNODC, adding that one third of the cocaine consumed in Latin America were passed or consumed in Brazil.
The biggest bank robbery ever promoted in the country happened in 2005, when 164 million reais (80 million dollars) were stolen from the Central Bank safe in the city of Fortaleza. Some members of the gang that built a 78 meter (256 feet) tunnel to reach the safe were caught – but they never confessed. Now the story is (freely) portraied in “Assalto ao Banco Central”, a very tense film by Marcos Paulo, a successful soap opera director at TV Globo. The huge cast includes Milhem Cortaz, Eriberto Leão, Lima Duarte, Giulia Gam, Gero Camilo, Cassio Gabus Mendes, Tonico Pereira, Milton Gonçalves and Antonio Abujamra. The film will be released in Brazil on July 22, but you can check here the screen trailer:
Brazilians have a somewhat disturbing tenderness for certain types of criminals. Let me drop some names that will prove my point: Meneghetti, Adhemar de Barros, Lampião and your generic malandro.
Take, for instance, the figure of Gino Meneghetti. Born in Pisa, Italy, in 1870, he became a huge celebrity in São Paulo, between 1914 and the sixties. He was known as the “good thief”, “the greatest criminal of Latin America” and the “roof cat”, due to his ability of jumping from one house to another to deceive the police. The public passion for Meneghetti florished thanks to the massive media coverage of his feats and the fact that he never hurt anybody, only stole from the rich and performed spectacular escapes.
The second name in our list: coffee producer and politician Adhemar de Barros, the very popular governor that ruled over São Paulo state during part of the forties, the fifties and the sixties. One of his mottos, of striking candor, is still remembered by those who distrust politicians: “Roubo, mas faço” (I steal, but I also build). Indeed, he was very hard working and left a legacy of power dams, roads, schools and hospitals. But his government was also marked by several corruption episodes. Till today you can find elder adhemaristas that still long for those days.