The cover of one of the main Brazilian weekly magazines is about the smuggling of Brazilian uranium. Even though well informed people no longer believe in the stories published by weekly magazines in Brazil (because they are politically oriented and it is election year), the uranium case makes sense. After all, Brazil has a huge reserve of radioactive material (this is official) and exportation is quite tiny. Right now Brazil is able to process a small amount of radioactive minerals for use in the two existing commercial reactors so we all wonder where all the unprocessed radioactive material ends up.
All started when the Brazilian federal police arrested 18 bags of a granulated dark mineral in a truck in Amapá in July 2004. Amapá is a state in the extreme north of Brazil, has a small population, is distant of everything else, and it is known to have a large amount of radioactive minerals. After close examination the bags revealed to contain minerals rich in uranium and thorium. Then a secret investigation was started by the federal police which uncovered an international gang which waspecializeded in the search, extraction and smuggling of this material.
The search and extraction is made in collaboration with local people. They stock bags of radioactive mineral in their homes and are unaware of its danger. Then the gang go after the paperwork needed to export the material. Local and federal authorities got involved to issue illegal permissions. And then the mineral is sent to Europe, Asia and Africa and also to Russia, North Korea and possibly to international terrorist groups. Many names are cited by the magazine, including Haytham Abdul Rahman Khalaf which seems to be linked to Hamas, an attorney general and some politicians.
Besides being an international distribution point for drugs now Brazil is also providing radioactive minerals to the world. A big step backwards.