On October 3, 2021, agents of the Paraguayan National Anti-Drug Secretariat (SENAD, in Spanish) and the Brazilian Federal Police (PF, in Portuguese) captured four leaders of the criminal organization First Capital Command (PCC, in Portuguese). The captures were made during the combined operation Secure Border (Operación Frontera Segura) 3, which was carried out in cities of both countries.
SENAD led three raids in Pedro Juan Caballero, while the PF conducted eight interventions in neighboring Ponta Porã. Agents made the arrests simultaneously. “The PCC’s main leadership had designated the detainees as responsible for the border area,” SENAD said in a statement. The four individuals are allegedly connected to drug trafficking, assaults, and homicides.
“In Pedro Juan Caballero, [authorities] confirmed the use of several houses as temporary ‘hideouts’ by PCC members,” SENAD said. One of those houses appears in a photo provided by SENAD intelligence teams. The image shows various group members gathering in the garage, carrying high-caliber weapons, next to five luxury cars.
“Targets on both sides of the border are considered very high-risk due to their criminal records,” SENAD said.
Tuca and Brujo
Two of the detainees were identified as Anderson Meneses de Paula, alias Tuca, and William Meira do Nascimento, alias Brujo. Authorities suspect that they participated in attacks on banks in the city of Araçatuba, in São Paulo state, Brazil, on August 30. According to the PF, Brujo is likely part of the PCC’s core command structure, and may have connections to different robberies in Brazil.
“In addition, the Paraguayan police reported that Tuca is likely the main leader of the group known as Justicieros de la Frontera [Border Avengers], responsible for at least 20 executions in the last three months,” the Brazilian newspaper Correio Braziliense said. “Some of the victims were beheaded or had their limbs amputated,” the newspaper added.
Agents arrested Tuca when he was about to enter Pedro Juan Caballero to formally assume his new position as head of the PCC on the dry border, the Paraguayan newspaper ABC reported. According to ABC, Tuca’s mission was to reactivate the PCC’s trafficking routes, following the expulsion and capture of the organization’s last three leaders on the border: Levi Adriani Felicio; Giovanni Barbosa da Silva, alias Bonitão; and Weslley Neres dos Santos, alias Bebezão.
“In addition to the arrests and raids, [the agents] seized several goods and valuables, as well as high-caliber ammunition,” the PF said. Those under investigation may face charges for international drug trafficking, criminal organization, and international firearms trafficking, with penalties that could exceed 30 years in prison, the PF concluded.