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Paraguayan Police Arrests Brazilian Narcotrafficking Leader

Paraguayan Police Arrests Brazilian Narcotrafficking Leader

By Andréa Barretto/Diálogo
March 16, 2021

The First Capital Command (PCC, in Portuguese), the largest organized crime and narcotrafficking group in Brazil, suffered another loss. On January 9, 2021, the country’s National Police arrested a drug dealer, considered to be the PCC’s main leader in Paraguay. Giovanni Barbosa da Silva, aka Bonitão or the PCC’s Joker, had been at large since 2020.

The investigations that culminated in the criminal’s arrest were a result of cooperation between the Brazilian and Paraguayan police, involving the Brazilian Intelligence Agency and the Paraguayan National Anti-Drug Secretariat.

The Paraguayan National Police arrested Giovanni Barbosa da Silva, wanted for his participation in organized crime, drug and arms trafficking, and for the death of four youth in Paraguay in 2020. (Photo: Paraguayan National Police)

Giovanni was found in the Paraguayan city of Pedro Juan Caballero, which shares a border with Brazil. “A small group of officers arrested him on a street. At the time of his arrest, he was alone and carrying weapons,” said prosecutor Lorenzo Lezcano, a representative of the Paraguayan Attorney General’s Office.

That same night, a group of more than 20 criminals attacked the police station where the PCC member was being held, attempting to rescue him. During a shootout, criminals took three police officers hostage. Paraguayan agents managed to thwart their attempt, freeing the officers.

The operation resulted in the seizure of rifles, magazines, and bulletproof vests. Two members of the criminal group were also arrested: Paulo Augusto Jaime Landolfi and Lucas de Aguiar Freire, both Brazilian citizens. They were identified as PCC members and transferred to a police station in the Paraguayan capital, Asunción, where they will be prosecuted.

The day following his arrest, Giovanni was turned in to the Brazilian Federal Police (PF, in Portuguese). He was extradited and immediately taken into custody at an undisclosed location, for security reasons. The speed of the initiative “was based on Giovanni’s importance among PCC members and the history of attempts to rescue leaders of the criminal faction,” the Brazilian Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.

The investigation into Giovanni’s involvement with the PCC was part of Operation Exile. The PF launched the operation in June 2020, which is part of a strategy to counter organized crime based on guidelines aimed at arresting leaders, decapitalizing organization assets, and international police cooperation.

The blow to PCC operations in Paraguay is important to the strategy because the country is a key link in the international narcotrafficking route, in which drugs exit Peru and Bolivia, transit through Paraguay, and enter Brazil to be exported to other countries.