The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report's publication assesses Paraguay at Level 1, indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions. Exercise increased caution in Amambay, Alto Parana, CanindeyA�, San Pedro, and Concepcion departments due to crime.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
The U.S. Embassy in Asuncion does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The American Citizens' Services unit (ACS) cannot recommend a particular individual or location, and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.
Review OSAC's Paraguay-specific page for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.
There is considerable risk from crime in Asuncion. Crime continues to be a serious concern. Crime is generally non-violent, but the common use of knives and firearms in muggings and street crime creates the possibility for serious harm. Recent statistics and high-profile incidents indicate a growing willingness by criminals to use firearms. Criminals target those believed to be wealthy, including expatriates. Armed robbery, car theft, burglary, and occasional home invasion are a problem in both urban and rural areas. Street crime, including pickpocketing and mugging, is prevalent on public buses and in urban areas. The Paraguayan National Police (PNP) acknowledge that many crimes go unreported due to lack of confidence in the judicial process.
Incidents occur where armed muggers using motorcycles (motochorros) to approach their victims, during daylight hours and at night. In a few instances, they have wounded or killed victims who attempted to flee or refused to turn over valuables. Although men have been victims, more often the victims tend to be women walking alone or in a small group.
Thieves have been known to pose as service people (e.g., mail carriers, reporters, water meter readers, electrical technicians, delivery persons, maintenance personnel) to gain access to homes. They sometimes wear uniforms and travel in vans and automobiles with markings that make the vehicle appear official. Do not let such people inside your home unless you have contacted the service provider directly to verify the appointment.
There have been instances of bank employees working with organized criminal groups to identify and rob individuals after they withdraw large amounts of cash. In addition, organized criminal groups have targeted armored bank cars in transit or while conducting money pickups at banks. For more information, review OSAC's report, The Overseas Traveler's Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud.
Significant Recent Criminal Incidents:
April 27, 2017, a military-styled robbery occurred in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay's major border town with Brazil, during which heavily armed gunmen robbed the offices of security company Prosegur, stealing approximately $12 million. Members of Brazilian criminal gang First Capital Command (PCC) perpetrated the robbery, the largest in Paraguay's history.
October 25, 2017, alleged PCC members executed a midday attack near a crowded commercial area of Asuncion, killing the target, an alleged narcotrafficker, and his five-year-old son.
August 24, 2018, the former Attorney General Javier Diaz Veron went to federal prison as a preventative arrest on charges of illicit enrichment in one of many corruption cases involving Paraguayan politicians. Corruption continues to be a major problem.
September 6, 2018, Operation Berilo was launched (more than 20 raids), leading to the seizure of 23 luxury vehicles, the discovery of 21 kilos of cocaine, and 15 pre-indicted individuals, including police officers and Public Ministry officials.
September 13, 2018, Public Ministry ordered detention of Lower House Deputy Ulises Quintana for drug trafficking, illicit enrichment, money laundering, and influence peddling, linked to the September 7 arrest of alleged narcotrafficker Reinaldo Cucho CabaAa in Paraguay near the Brazilian border.
October 24, 2018, the PNP detonated a car bomb allegedly prepared by members of Brazilian criminal organization Comando Vermelho to rescue a high-profile gang leader, Marcelo Pinheiro, who had been in PNP custody.
December 21, 2018, the Public Ministry advanced corruption cases against former senators Oscar Gonzalez-Dahar and Jorge Oviedo Matto.
Virtual kidnappings occur in Paraguay. Virtual kidnapping schemes typically involve an individual or criminal organization who contact a victim via telephone and demand payment for the return of a kidnapped family member or friend. While no actual kidnapping has taken place, the callers often use co-conspirators to convince their victims of the legitimacy of the threat. Most schemes use various techniques to instill a sense of fear, panic, and urgency in an effort to force the victim into making a hasty decision. Over the past several years, there has been an increase in virtual kidnapping reports. For more information, review OSAC's report, Kidnapping: The Basics.
Other Areas of Concern
PNP continues to report a higher level of crime, including property crimes and assaults, in downtown Asuncion. The majority of the crimes committed in downtown Asuncion take place at night. The Chacarita area, located along the river, is a known high-crime area, which even local police refrain from entering.
Visitors to the Tri-Border Area (TBA) should remain especially vigilant. The population centers of the TBA include Ciudad del Este (Paraguay), Puerto IguazA� (Argentina), and Foz do Iguacu (Brazil). In 2018, authorities attributed violence along the Paraguay-Brazil border between Pedro Juan Caballero and Salto de Guaira to the increasing PCC presence.
The Embassy requires employees to obtain permission to travel to the departments of Alto Parana, Amambay, CanindeyA�, San Pedro, and Concepcion, due to high crime levels.
Source: Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)