August 15, 2006

South Americans set up anti-crime border center

BRASILIA, Brazil (Reuters) - The governments of Brazil,
Paraguay and Argentina have set up a joint intelligence center
to combat smuggling and money-laundering in the region where
their borders meet, Brazil said on Tuesday.

The United States, which has long complained that the
so-called Tri-Border area is rampant with cross-frontier crime,
was involved in the establishment of the Regional Intelligence

Located at Federal Police facilities in the Brazilian city
of Foz do Iguacu, the center will start operations in a few
weeks, Brazil's foreign ministry said. Creation of the center
signified an increase in cooperation between the three
neighbors, it said.

The area is a hub of trade and commercial activity. In the
latest of many U.S. criticisms, U.S. Assistant Secretary of
State Anne Patterson said in March that it "has long served as
a venue for illicit activity including drugs and arms smuggling
and money-laundering."

The United States has also said the large Arab community in
the area raised funds for Lebanon's Hizbollah organization --
which Washington calls a terrorist group -- although it has
provided no concrete evidence.