World Cup: New Brazilian police prepare for PCC attacks
By Dialogo November 21, 2013
Police from the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are joining forces to battle the First Command of Capital (PCC) organized crime group, which is allegedly planning to attack elected officials and security forces during the 2014 World Cup, authorities said.
Military police and state civil police from both states are forming a task force to gather intelligence on the PCC, to disrupt the organized crime group’s operations, and to capture its key leaders and operatives.
São Paulo Governer Geraldo Alckmin announced the creation of the task force on Oct. 14, 2013. The governor announced the security initiative after an emergency meeting involving Alckmin, Secretary of Public Security Fernando Grella, Secretary of Prison Administration Lourival Gomes, and the commanders of the Civil and Military Police (MP).
“I want to bring peace to the people by letting them know that the police are taking action and all measures are being taken,” Alckmin said. “Things are going to get ugly for them (PCC command). However, we will not be intimidated. Our obligation is to look after the public interest, to fight against crime.”
PCC plans World Cup attacks
The announcement was made a week after the regional public prosecutor disclosed that a lengthy investigation revealed that the PCC was planning to carry out attacks on Alckmin, other elected officials, and police agents during the World Cup, which will take place in Brazil in July 2014. The PCC also allegedly planned to attack political leaders during the presidential campaign. The presidential election is scheduled for October 2014. President Dilma Rousseff is planning on seeking re-election.
The investigation was conducted by the Special Action Group for the Repression of Organized Crime (GAECO) of the Regional Public Prosecutor’s Office, consisting of 23 public prosecutors.
GAECO wiretapped some of the incarcerated PCC leaders and operatives, interviewed witnesses, and reviewed court documents. GAECO also reviewed police reports written about the seizures of drugs and weapons from PCC operatives who were not incarcerated.
The GAECO investigation is now the most comprehensive law enforcement archive of the organized crime group.
The investigation was carried out over a three-year span, authorities said. The investigation focused on the criminal activities and plans of 175 PCC leaders and operatives. Most of the PCC members under investigation are already incarcerated in prisons in São Paulo.
In addition to attacking political leaders and police agents, the PCC allegedly planned to try to break some PCC members out of prison, according to O Estado de São Paul.
A common problem
State civil and militarized police will rely on intelligence to disrupt the criminal schemes of the PCC.
It is important that security forces from São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro work together, since the PCC comprises a common threat to both states, said Carlos Mendoza Mora, director of Strategic Projects Consulting, a private security company.
The two security forces will complement each other, Mendoza Mora said. The Military Police are the uniformed officers who patrol neighborhoods, while detectives assigned to the Civilian Police wear plain clothes and conduct criminal investigations, the security analyst said.
“Collaborative efforts provide an aspect of both stronger coverage and legal investigations,” Mendoza Mora said. “Brazilian authorities are strengthening their intelligence mechanisms through precise operations to obtain specific information and stay a step ahead of potential threats.”
Retaliation by the PCC
The regional public prosecutor’s investigation revealed evidence that the PCC is planning to launch attacks during the World Cup and the presidential election campaign as retaliation for the possible transfer of as many as 32 PCC leaders from maximum security prisons in São Paulo, which are known as the Differentiated Disciplinary Regime (RDD).
In October 2013, a court in São Paulo ordered PCC a high-ranking PCC leader, Paulo Cezar Souza Nascimento Junior, who is known as “Paulinho Neblina”, to be transferred to a stricter maximum-security prison. Prison officials said they expect to transfer other PCC leaders to maximum-security facilities.
Among the prisoners who may be transferred to an RDD facility is the leader of the PCC, Marco Willians Herbas Camacho, who is known as “Marcola.” He is currently serving a 44-year prison term.
PCC criminal enterprises
There are 200,000 inmates in Brazil’s state prisons. About 90 percent of them are loyal to the PCC, according to the GAECO investigation.
The PCC was formed by prison inmates in the 1990s. The founders of the group initially demanded better prison conditions. The organization branched out to drug trafficking and extortion. Today, the PCC is one of the largest drug trafficking organizations in Brazil. Authorities estimate that the PCC generates about $3.5 (USD) million a month from its drug trafficking business.
The PCC is suspected of generating another $1 million a month from other criminal enterprises, such as illegal gambling.
The PCC operates in 22 of the 27 Brazilian states, as well as in Bolivia and Paraguay. However, the PCC has not been able to establish a presence in Rio de Janeiro. Another organized crime group, the Red Command, traffics drugs in Rio de Janeiro.
The PCC obtains drugs from Brazilian drug traffickers Wilson Roberto Cuba, who is known as “Gruñón;” Rodrigo Felicio, known as “Tiquinho;” and Claudio Marcos Almeida, who is also known as “Django.” The PCC also obtains drugs from Paraguayan drug kingpin Carlos Antonio Caballero, who is known as “Capilo.”
The PCC has about 8,000 members in the the state of São Paulo, of which 6,000 are serving prison sentences, according to Folha de São Paulo. The PCC has thousands of members throughout the country.
From prison, PCC leaders use cell phones to direct operatives to carry out assassinations, buy weapons and tons of cocaine, and attack security forces.
Alckmin recently announced plans to install mobile phone signal blockers in 23 prisons throughout São Paulo.
The PCC has committed a number of highly-publicized violent attacks in recent years:
• In June 2013, the PCC allegedly killed four men suspected of taking the life of Brayan Yanarico Capcha, 5, a Bolivian child who was shot to death in São Paulo. PCC leaders reportedly ordered the four men killed for violating the “code” of the organization.
• Over the span of several months in 2012, PCC operatives killed 106 agents of the São Paulo militarized police force.
• In May 2006, PCC operatives launched a series of attacks on police and public buses throughout the state. The attacks killed 300 people.
Brazilian security forces should remain vigilant when it comes to the PCC, security analyst Mendoza Mora said.
The PCC “is a criminal group that is capable of carrying out massive attacks. The risk is latent,” Mendoza Mora said. “They are experts at generating fear to try to restrict the operations of the state and delay the mobilization of their leaders on criminal charges who have less room for maneuver.”
The PCC usually targets security forces conducting patrols or intelligence activities, he added.
“Brazilian authorities are strengthening their intelligence mechanisms through precise operations to obtain specific information and stay a step ahead of potential threats,” Mendoza Mora said.
“Things are going to get ugly for them (PCC command). However, we will not be intimidated. Our obligation is to look after the public interest, to fight against crime,” Alckmin said.