BULL STREET - The art of the Con

The Magnificent Iguaçu Falls Are Here Too


The City of Ciudad Del Este is located in Paraguay at the confluence of Brazil and Argentina, where the magnificent Iguaçu Falls shines its glory on three countries.  Paraguay has its own trademark laws, and no matter what you happen to call your product, it can be trademarked once again here in Paraguay.  The strangest example of this law is the case of a Paraguayan designer who trademarked the name Calvin Klein and used it so extensively that the people were shocked to find out that he was not Calvin Klein himself.  This type of law has caused companies such as the Walt Disney Company to avoid the country like the plague. 


Ciudad del Este located on Paraguay’s borders with Argentina and Brazil, has become the home to some of the most adept counterfeiters in the world. These folks, many of whom are Islamic Fundamentalist guerrillas who live within the substantial Shiite Muslim Community here of 6,000 are known to deal in copies of literally everything that is worth anything. It has been estimated that 100,000 vendors take over every available inch of ground in the city every morning to display their wares, which includes every major global designer name of importance.  Police are stultified and do not even attempt to close down stalls with obviously black market goods with excuses like, “how will these people feed their families if we close them down?” Naturally they are being well paid to look the other way.


The wholesale trade, which operates in the shadows of Ciudad Del Este, is every bit as important as its retail counterpart.  Cheap unmarked goods are shipped into the city from the Pacific Rim and as such avoid the restrictive quotas usually placed on these types of goods especially in high tariff neighbor, Brazil.   Additionally, because the merchandise is not branded, the tariff is negligible.  Designer labels are either imported or printed domestically and slapped onto the goods for reshipment throughout South America, where entrepreneurs are able to take advantage of tax treaties to avoid duty.  Although statistics are hard to come by, Paraguay does rank as one of the few countries in the world where the “black economy”[89] is at least as large as its regulated economy.  


While we are not into hasty generalization, this seems like a city where literally everyone is a criminal of sorts; these folks deal in brand items and expensive software, but the counterfeiting of highly respectable passports is one of their specialties. A wonderful authentic looking new identity can purchased here be had for next to nothing. Moreover, beside a passport they will supply you with driver’s licenses, credit cards and an entire portfolio of legitimate looking documents, giving you one terrific bang for the buck. When you realize how good these guys are at what they do, you kind of wonder how we are going to some of their brothers in the terror business out of this country. 


Moreover, the aggressive attitude of the folks that live here has caught the attention of the FBI who are in the prosses of opening an office in Brasilia to be close to the source of this den of forgery. At the source, in addition to a whole bunch of nasty people is a Hezbollah cell, which is in the process of training mercenaries in jungle fighting, bombing and other means of destroying entire cultures. Iran has also been a large contributor to efforts to make something more out of this place. However, according to recent statistics, half of the cars on the Paraguayan Roads have been stolen in Brazil. A nice bunch of folks that they have done here isn’t it.




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