Things That Matter

A Tough On Drugs President Just Had 86 Pounds Of Cocaine Found In One Of His Presidential Airplanes

Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro, has been a very vocal and extreme anti-drug politician. So it was pretty shocking to hear that his presidential plane ended up carrying 86 pounds of cocaine across the Atlantic Ocean during an official trip. 

The cocaine was found aboard his plane while on a layover in Seville, Spain on its way to Japan for the G20 summit.

Credit: @telesurenglish / Twitter

A Brazilian airman on that aircraft was caught with the shipment on Tuesday during a brief stop in Spain en route to the Group of 20 summit in Japan.

The cocaine bust was bad enough. But it was an extraordinary embarrassment for Mr. Bolsonaro, who has exalted the integrity and professionalism of Brazil’s military.

The president called the incident “unacceptable” and said he had demanded, “severe punishment” for the service member. “We won’t tolerate this type of disrespect to our nation!” he said in a message posted on Twitter.

The drugs were found in the luggage of the service member.

Credit: @business / Twitter

Authorities in Spain said they had intercepted the cocaine when the airman, Sgt. Manoel Silva Rodrigues, stopped in the city of Seville along with an advance team supporting Mr. Bolsonaro’s trip.

Mr. Bolsonaro traveled on a separate plane that made a stop in Lisbon en route to Osaka, where G-20 leaders are convening.

Sergeant Rodrigues walked off the plane carrying a garment bag and a carry-on suitcase, law enforcement officials in Spain told the newspaper El País. When airport screeners inspected the bag, they found 37 bundles of cocaine and nothing else in the bag, according to the report.

All of this was made all the more scandalous given the President’s harsh anti-drug rhetoric.

Credit: @nytimes / Twitter

Earlier this month, Bolsonaro enacted drug policy designed to toughen penalties for traffickers and require users to undergo rehabilitation at private or religious centers.

The new rules raise the minimum prison sentence for traffickers who lead criminal organizations from five to eight years. In addition, they reinforce the role of therapeutic communities.

Drug users in the country previously had to agree to hospital admission, but the law now allows involuntary rehabilitation upon the recommendation of a relative or public health official.

Reactions on Twitter ranged from the humorous…

I mean a tough on drugs president having to explain away drugs found on a presidential aircraft.

To, well, more humor.

Credit: @nytimes / Twitter

I mean stranger things have happened.

And many Brazilians reacted with anger at the news.

Credit: @nytimes / Twitter

Many feel that their government is full of hypocrisy when it comes to so many issues and this drug bust was just the latest in a string of corruption.

While many questioned whether or not the airman was actually working alone.

Credit: @nytimes / Twitter

If it’s true that the street value of the drugs was more than USD $2.75 million then maybe there was some kind of organized plan.

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