Summarized by Kent Larsen
LDS Congressman in Brazil Leads Powerful Drug Investigation
Los Angeles Times 24Jan00 P2
By Sebastian Rotella: Times Staff Writer
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL -- LDS Church member Moroni Torgan of Brazil's
Ceara state has made a name for himself in Brazil by investigating drug
trafficking and bringing to light the mafia-like practices of the
sometimes prominent members of Brazilian society that are involved.
As reported by Mormon News last November, (see:
Torgan is a returned missionary and one of 19 members of the Brazilian
congress on an anti-drug investigation commission known by its initials
in Portuguese, CPI. Sometimes called the "untouchables" after the U.S.
FBI agents who fought the chicago mob under Elliot Ness in the 1930s,
the CPI has changed the perception of illicit drug distribution in
Brazil has become the second largest consumer of cocaine in the world,
behind the United States, leading both national and international drug
mafias to base their operations there. Also making Brazil attractive is
its long borders to drug-producing countries like Columbia, Peru,
Bolivia and Paraguay.
Because of the CPI's efforts, the nature of the problem has become much
more visible. Brazil's President, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, told
journalists recently, "It's evident -- and the CPI demonstrated this
clearly -- that the question of drug trafficking is more deeply rooted
than any of us had imagined. These roots reach into some sectors of
politics, government and organized crime."
Congressional deputy Antonio Biscaia of Rio de Janeiro agrees, "For the
first time, we have shown that the drug lords are not just young men in
slums. We have shown the relationship of drug trafficking with political
During the past eight months of the CPI's year-long mandate, one member
of the Brazilian Congress has been expelled and arrested for leading a
drug mafia in the Brazilian state of Acre. Another 150 suspects have
been either arrested or investigated.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Torgan has spearheaded the CPI's
work. A former federal police commander, Torgan pressed for the
commission when the results of a previous commission which he had led,
five years earlier, were disappointing.
To the Brazilian public, the most gratifying revelation of the CPI is
that the drug mafias are being investigated, in spite of their
high-level political ties. The CPI has managed to avoid being bought-off
or shut up like local and federal police have been for so many years.
But while the investigations have been successful, it remains to be seen
what will happen in the future. The CPI's mandate ends soon, and its
final report should be issued by April. "They don't know how they are
going to end this," said Rio de Janeiro political scientist Amaury De
Souza. "They just can't keep revealing things -- they have to come up with
a solution. And the federal government doesn't know where to go with it
either. But it has huge popular appeal. It is political gold."
And the public has hope that good will come from the CPI's
investigations, "People see the rich and powerful being accused and some
of them going to jail," said drug trafficking scholar Alba Zaluar. "This
is very rare in Brazil. Slowly, things are changing."