Traveling Through Campo Grande
Just a few hours from the Bolivian border, Campo Grande is known as a major hub for drug trafficking. Accordingly, many of the buses leaving Campo Grande for Brazil's larger cities, particularly Sao Paulo and Rio, are stopped for routine police inspections. These inspections are not uncommon throughout Brazil and typically consist of two officers coming on board, checking passengers' identification, and doing a rudimentary inspection around the seats and of some of the baggage. Lasting less than ten minutes, they are usually nothing more than a slight inconvenience. The inspection of our bus from Campo Grande to Sao Paulo was following this routine when one of the officers found a package under one of the seats that caught his attention. He pulled out the small, brown burlap bag and cut it open. As he was just a couple rows in front of me on my side of the bus, I had a clear view as he pulled out a brick-sized package of a white substance that appeared to be cocaine. He whistled to the other officer, and quickly things changed. There was a new tenseness in the air as the two officers exited the bus. Within moments four officers boarded. Two of the officers thoroughly searched the bus while the other two stood in the aisle, each with one hand firmly around his revolver. While the officers patted down and questioned most of the other passengers, they largely ignored me. The nervous behavior of one of the other passengers led me to believe that he was the mule, but the officers focused their attention on some of the other passengers. Finding nothing new, the officers gathered at the front of the bus and announced the bus would be detained so that an even more thorough investigation could be conducted. That investigation proved similarly fruitless and within a couple hours we were back on the road.