Until the 1980s, organised crime and urban violence were not considered a major political challenge in Brazil. This belief was encouraged by a great reluctance to introduce coercive police measures that might act as reminders of the repression experienced under the dictatorial government of the 1960s and 70s. At present, however, the collective strategy for the fight against transnational crime represents a fundamental challenge. Brazil’s domestic successes and its growing influence as a global actor could be tarnished if the country does not succeed in containing the presence of drug trafficking and related crime. The costs of insecurity, furthermore, are calling into question Brazil’s ability to constitute itself as a platform for South American development. The creation of Unasur and its South American Council on the World Drug Problem reflect South America’s commitment to support a forum for dialogue on the subject, and point to the way ahead: consolidating regional multilateralism. More than four years later, effective instruments are still being sought, but the successful experience of collaboration with Bolivia is being presented as a model for future actions. Strengthening coordination in Unasur will bring the added benefit of the ability to make progress in a more mature and balanced dialogue with the United States with respect to a joint hemispheric agenda.