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Brazil: Federal Police Dismantles Group that Shipped Cocaine to Europe

Brazil: Federal Police Dismantles Group that Shipped Cocaine to Europe

By Eduardo Szklarz/Diálogo
December 17, 2021

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On November 18, 2021, during Operation Calvary, the Brazilian Federal Police (PF, in Portuguese) dismantled an organization that was shipping cocaine to Europe by sea. About 150 PF agents served 36 search and seizure warrants, six arrest warrants and four temporary arrest warrants in several states, including São Paulo and Bahia.

One of the prisoners was the gang leader, known as Don Corleone, alluding to the mafia character from the movie The Godfather. The PF did not reveal the identity of the leader, who used encrypted applications to communicate with his cronies.

“The drug was not supplied by them [the criminals], but they were willing to ship it abroad from Brazil, using boats,” PF Deputy Luccas Dathayde told the Brazilian newspaper Extra. “They were the ones who planned the transportation logistics to the port [of São Sebastião, in São Paulo] and from there to Europe. Everything was planned by them and communicated to the narcotic owners,” added the police officer.

Shipments were sent to countries such as Spain, Portugal, and Belgium. According to the PF, the gang used black market dealers to bring money from Europe to Brazil and pay for logistics operations through accounts opened under front men and fictitious people. “Its members also acquired real estate under non-existent legal entities,” Extra reported.

During Operation Calvary, Federal police officers also seized weapons used by the international narcotrafficking organization. (Photo: Brazilian Federal Police)

2,700 kilograms of cocaine

Investigations showed that in October 2020 criminals exported 2,700 kg of cocaine to Europe from the port of São Sebastião. The cargo was bound for the city of Cadiz, Spain. However, part of the drugs, 1,500 kg,  was eventually seized in Brazil, during a joint inspection carried out by the PF and the Internal Revenue Service. “The other part, 1,200 kg, was seized in Spain, after communications from the PF to the Spanish police authorities and the actions of Europol,” said Agência Brasil.

During Operation Calvary, police seized 28 properties located in four states, several vehicles, including cars valued at nearly $106,000, and funds kept in 53 individual and legal entity accounts, including accounts opened in Portugal and Belgium, the PF indicated.

According to O Globo newspaper, the organization also owned a ship used to transport the drug. “In all, it’s estimated that the assets seized during the operation are close to $9 million,” said Agência Brasil.

Authorities ordered the breach of banking and tax secrecy for 66 people, including 39 legal entities allegedly used by individuals under investigation for money laundering, the PF said. “The operation was named Calvary in reference to the cemetery in which Don Corleone was buried,” the PF said.

Nearly 2 tons of drugs

In less than a week, Brazilian security forces seized nearly 2 tons of drugs in different operations. On November 21, during patrols on the Paraná River, PF agents observed the movement of two fishing vessels sailing in an environmental protection area.

“Upon realizing police was approaching, the suspects sailed to the riverbank, abandoned the boats and managed to escape in the middle of the dense forest,” the PF said. With the support of the Brazilian Army, agents seized the two vessels loaded with 971.5 kg of marijuana, the PF stated.

That same day, federal agents seized 265 kg of cocaine at Natal Port, which was bound for Rotterdam Port, in the Netherlands. On November 18, agents from the PF and the Border Police Battalion intercepted a vehicle with 574 kg of marijuana in the region of Iporã, Paraná.