On February 11, 2021, agents of the Paraguayan National Anti-Drug Secretariat (SENAD, in Spanish) arrested four Brazilian nationals — three men and one woman — believed to belong to the Brazilian criminal organization First Capital Command (PCC, in Portuguese).
The arrests were carried out in the city of Pedro Juan Caballero during Operation Safe Border (Frontera Segura), carried out together with the Brazilian Federal Police.
“The objective was to attack the PCC’s operational and logistics bases in Paraguay,” SENAD Minister Zully Rolón told the news channel PDS.
“What we do [in these operations] is to study the group well, so that we can dismantle its main structures,” the minister said. “These days, it’s useless to only seize drugs if this structure remains alive.”
According to the Paraguayan Office of the Attorney General, the detainees were likely candidates to replace Giovanni Barbosa da Silva, alias Bonitão, PCC leader in the border area.
On January 9, the Paraguayan police arrested Bonitão and later handed him over to Brazilian authorities at the Friendship Bridge, which connects Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, and Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil.
The four detainees are Djonathan Agustinho Fuliotto Pimentel, whom the investigation identified as Bonitão’s secretary; Luiz Guilherme Dutra Toppam, alias Coxinha; attorney Pedro Martins Aquino; and Laura Velasca.
Authorities extradited the three men to serve their sentences in Brazil, where they had arrest warrants, the Paraguayan newspaper Última Hora reported. The woman was released on the prosecutor’s order, but she will be called to testify, the news agency Efe indicated.
Operation Safe Border consisted of six simultaneous raids. In one of them, agents found a marijuana greenhouse.
“We found an indoor lab for processing high-THC marijuana,” the Paraguayan Office of the Attorney General reported.
The PCC emerged in the early 1990s in Brazilian prisons, and it became international in the last decade. Nowadays, it has cells in Paraguay, Bolivia, Colombia, and Venezuela.
According to Minister Rolón, the PCC and the Red Command, another Brazilian criminal organization, have about 300 members in Paraguayan prisons. Hence the importance of border operations to prevent them from entering the country, the Paraguayan newspaper ABC reported.