The governor of Goiás, Ronaldo Caiado (União), attended the Parliamentary Inquiry Commission (CPI) that investigates the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) in May as a guest. In a session marked by harsh discussions, he stated, without mincing words, that the movement’s settlements in the state were used for drug trafficking.
“The people who trafficked drugs took refuge in these false settlements,” said Caiado. The governor even promised the commission the data that would prove his assertions, which never happened.
Official data on seizures of illegal narcotics in Goiás, however, are exhaustive: Caiado lied when he stated that there is drug trafficking in MST settlements. Brasil de Fato obtained, through the Access to Information Law (LAI), data on all drug seizures carried out in Goiás between January 2019 and March 2023. No major drug seizures took place in the state in areas related to the movement .
In just over five years and 23 operations in settlements, just over 300 grams of drugs were found – most of it marijuana. The quantities are tiny and, in all cases, they fall within what experts classify as quantity for personal use. By comparison, the state seized nearly 200 tons of narcotics elsewhere in the same period.
In the late afternoon of May 31, the main news in some of the country’s biggest media outlets was that the MST had been accused of associating itself with drug trafficking in Goiás. This statement was made by Caiado at the MST’s CPI, where he stated that “several drug seizures” were made in settlements in Goiás.
“Invasions were used in many states, first, to be a point where not even the police could enter (…) where people who carried out drug trafficking took shelter in these false occupation settlements that were made to carry out what they wanted from there. was drug trafficking,” said Caiado to the federal deputies who make up the commission. The governor insisted on the thesis.
“What I said I repeat: several drug seizures in my state of Goiás were made when I arrived at the government in existing MST camps. Let me make the matter very clear: several drug arrests were made in MST camps, right? This is the truth that is naked and raw”, sentenced Caiado.
Federal deputy Gustavo Gayer (PL-GO), a member of the CPI, even celebrated the fact that Caiado promised to send the commission data on drug seizures in MST settlements. “We are going to show that there is, yes, not only consumption, but drug trafficking within these environments, because it becomes a parallel state, which does not allow the police to enter,” said Gayer.
Until the closing of this article, more than two months after the testimony, Caiado had not sent the data to the CPI.
tons x grams
Brasil de Fato obtained data on drug seizures in Goiás from the beginning of Caiado’s administration, on January 1, 2019, until March 1 of this year. The numbers show a discrepancy between what the governor narrated at the CPI and the reality exposed by police operations in Goiás.
During the period, the Public Security Secretariat (SSP-GO) registered 23 operations in MST settlements, eight in 2019, three in 2020, one in 2021, eight in 2022 and three in 2023.
In all, Goiás seized 16.5 tons of cocaine during Caiado’s administration. In the same period, in areas of the MST, only 23.04 grams of the substance were found. Police forces found the amount in four operations, carried out in three settlements.
According to SSP-GO, state police found 1.5 tons of crack in the state in the same period. In MST areas, in almost five years, only 87.68 grams, seized in four operations, in the settlements.
During the Caiado government, Goiás seized 181 tons of marijuana throughout the state. Of that amount, only 191.5 grams in movement areas, divided into fourteen operations, in eleven settlements.
“Caiado should be investigated for slander”
Brazilian legislation does not establish parameters for distinguishing between drug users and drug dealers. In 2015, the Igarapé Institute produced the technical note Objective criteria for distinguishing between drug users and drug dealers – scenarios for Brazil, signed by lawyers, judges, professors, psychoanalysts and public defenders, which became the reference on the subject.
In the document, the institute explains that the Drug Law (nº 11.343), “in its article 28, § 2, it lists eight legal criteria for distinguishing between possession for personal use and drug trafficking: quantity and nature of the substance seized; the place and conditions of the action; and the social and personal circumstances, the conduct and background of the agent. Together, they form a set of criteria, mostly subjective”.
This subjectivity, explains Igarapé, contributed to mass incarceration in the country. To cooperate with the distinction between user and dealer, the institute proposed a measurement table, based on international legislation and national consumption standards.
In the Igarapé table, there are three scenarios. For marijuana, the per capita amounts, which would characterize own consumption, are 25 grams, 40 grams and 100 grams, respectively. In the case of cocaine and crack, 10 grams, 12 grams and 15 grams.
“We point out that the most suitable for the Brazilian reality is a fixed reference quantity between scenarios 2 and 3. Some signatories of the note even reject the first scenario, as they fear that its effect will be negative. It is necessary to be realistic and responsible in assessing the scenarios: we warn of the danger of adopting criteria that are too low, incompatible with Brazilian standards of use, which would result in the opposite effect to that intended. Objective criteria that are too low increase incarceration and aggravate the crisis of the penitentiary system”, justifies the institute .
Emílio Figueiredo, a lawyer specializing in cannabis legislation in Brazil and the Drug Law, condemned Caiado’s attempt to criminalize the MST. “This is a very small seizure, very low, it is likely to be considered personal consumption. There is no chance of this being configured as drug trafficking, there is no way to configure the purpose of illicit dissemination. The governor should be investigated for slander, as his accusation has no basis in the reality of seizure data,” he said.
A member of the MST’s CPI, federal deputy Nilton Tatto (PT-SP) also criticized the governor of Goiás. “Caiado, as he always did, is at the service of land grabbers. He lied to the CPI about combating drug trafficking in Goiás and even tried to criminalize the MST. It is regrettable that he went to the CPI to produce fake news. For this type of politician, anything goes. to prevent agrarian reform and support family farming.”
Editing: Thalita Pires