Brazil Takes Down Major Drug-Smuggling Ring

By Dialogo
December 10, 2009

Brazilian police broke up a drug-smuggling band accused of supplying drugs to a ruthless criminal organization that operates in Sao Paulo, authorities said.

An ongoing operation by the Federal Police has resulted so far in the arrests of 17 Brazilians and Paraguayans in the states of Mato Grosso do Sul and Sao Paulo.

The ring conducted its activities from Pedro Juan Caballero, Paraguay, and the neighboring Brazilian city of Ponta Pora, according to a Federal Police communique.

The drugs, mainly cocaine, were introduced into the country from Paraguay and "received in Sao Paulo by members of the First Capital Command (PCC), which processed and distributed them to buyers in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro," the statement said.

The PCC, whose top leaders continue to pull the strings from behind bars, was the criminal group that paralyzed Brazil's largest city in 2006 with a series of attacks that left dozens dead.

Police said that the ring used a pharmacy in Ponta Pora as a front to negotiate the transactions and hide its financial activities.

The owner of the establishment, who had served time in prison for his responsibility concerning a shipment of 800 kilos of cocaine, was one of the 17 people arrested.

Among the others captured is a man accused of having killed a policeman in Sao Paulo state in 2003.

In one of the raids, police seized a still-undetermined quantity of crack cocaine.

The investigation of the organization began seven months ago and 14 other people had been arrested since that time with drug shipments or quantities of chemical substances used to process cocaine.

The PCC paid for the drugs with cash or stolen vehicles that were legally re-registered in Paraguay.