Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

Paraguay: The Chinese mafia, including whether its members operate in the country with impunity; protection available to citizens from such organizations (2002-2005)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 17 February 2005
Citation / Document Symbol PRY43375.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Paraguay: The Chinese mafia, including whether its members operate in the country with impunity; protection available to citizens from such organizations (2002-2005), 17 February 2005, PRY43375.E, available at: [accessed 21 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Several sources indicated that the Chinese mafia operates in the tri-border area (TBA) of South America, between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay (EFE Ingles 26 Aug. 2003; FBIS 8 Oct. 2004; UK Oct. 2004).

According to a U.S. Library of Congress report on terrorist and organized crime groups in the TBA, "the cultural and social demographics of Ciudad del Este make it an ideal city for the operations of Chinese-speaking criminal groups." (July 2003). The same source indicated that, in 2000, "at least six Chinese triads" were active in the TBA (ibid.). The groups' illegal activities included contraband, drug trafficking, smuggling and extortion of "protection" money from Chinese businesspeople (ibid.; EFE Ingles 26 Aug. 2003; FBIS 8 Oct. 2004; InfoBrazil 23 Nov. 2004).

The Chinese mafia has reportedly collaborated with "Islamic terrorist groups" in the region (United States April 2003; Combined Arms Center Military Review July-August 2002). Information about their relationship with the local Paraguayan population was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. Country Reports 2003 stated that Chinese groups had "reportedly threatened the life of Ultima Hora journalist Gustavo Garcia for investigating them" (Sec. 2).

Various sources mentioned that the lack of security, corruption among Paraguayan officials, including judges, and the circulation of fake passports all contributed to the development of illegal activities in Paraguay, especially in the border areas (Courrier International 19 Dec. 2001; Freedom House 14 Sept. 2004; InfoBrazil 23 Nov. 2004; Jornal do Brasil 19 Sept. 2001; United States July 2003).

A study published by the Institute for Security Studies found that "[l]egal procedures for fighting crime [were] practically non-existent and/or highly ineffective. Parallel to widespread corruption, the judicial infrastructure, which is minimal, is inadequate for the cases requiring prosecution. In addition, the police structure does not have the necessary equipment for fighting crime (May 1998)." The U.S. Library of Congress also mentioned a lack of "investigative capabilities to track terrorists" and a "general lack of confidence in the local police" (July 2003).

The International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 2003 indicated that Paraguay has "taken some measures" to combat illegal activities in the TBA (March 2004). This information is corroborated by a report published by the U.S. Library of Congress (April 2003). However, this second source added that these efforts generated "only occasional success" and only a few organizational leaders have been arrested since 2001 (ibid.). EFE Ingles reported that a Paraguay court upheld a 10-year prison sentence of a leader of the Chinese mafia for aggravated extortion and criminal conspiracy along with two other Chinese citizens (26 Aug. 2003).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Combined Arms Center Military Review. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. July-August 2002 Spanish Edition. Dr. Mariano César Bartolomé. "La Triple Frontera: Principal Foco de Inseguridad en el Cono Sur Americano." [Accessed 11 Feb. 2005]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2003. 25 February 2004. United States Department of State. Washington, D.C. [Accessed 10 Feb. 2005]

Courrier International [Paris]. No. 577. 19 December 2001. "Neuf cent dollars pour changer de passeport." [Accessed 19 Dec. 2001]

EFE Ingles. 26 August 2003. "Stiff Sentence Upheld for Chinese Mobster in Paraguay." (Dialog)

FBIS Report. 8 October 2004. "Highlights: Argentina – Brazil – Paraguay Triborder Media 8 Oct 04." (FBIS-LAT-2004-1009 11 October 2004/WNC)

Freedom House. 14 September 2004. Freedom in the World 2004. "Paraguay." [Accessed 10 Feb. 2005]

Institute for Security Studies (ISS). May 1998. Khatchik der Ghougassian and Leandro Piquet Carn. "Connecting Weapons with Violence – the South American Experience". Monograph 25, Part 1. [Accessed 10 Feb. 2005]

InfoBrazil. 23 November 2004. John Fitzpatrick. "Brazil Gives China Early X-Mas Present...." (Yale Global Online Website) [Accessed 2 Feb. 2005]

International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 2003. March 2004. "Paraguay." United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 10 Feb. 2005]

Jornal do Brasil [Rio de Janeiro, in Portugese]. 19 September 2001. "Fake Paraguayan Visas issued in Miami, Delivered in Middle East". (FBIS-LAT-2001-0919 20 Sept. 2001/WNC)

United Kingdom (UK). 4 May 2004. House of Commons. Select Committee on Foreign Affairs. Minutes of Evidence. [Accessed 11 Feb. 2005]

United States (U.S.). July 2003. Library of Congress. Terrorist and Organized Crime Groups in the Tri-Border Area (TBA) of South America. [Accessed 9 Feb. 2005]
_____. April 2003. Library of Congress. Transnational Activities of Chinese Crime Organizations. [Accessed 9 Feb. 2005]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International, BBC, Danish Immigration Service, CIA World Factbook, European Country of Origin Information Network (ECOI), Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Internet, Human Rights Without Frontiers, Initiative on Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity (INCORE), Transparency International, United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Initiative (UNICRI).

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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