Investigators catch what is probably the largest cocaine dealer in Brazil

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Investigators catch what is probably the largest cocaine dealer in Brazil





© Nicolas Armer / dpa
When he was arrested, dos Santos carried 100 grams of marijuana in addition to 15 mobile phones – a rather modest amount for an international dealer. (Icon image)


• Gilberto Aparecido dos Santos is considered the leading head of the Brazilian drug gang Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC).

• The US drug agency, Brazilian police and local units have now successfully arrested the gangster boss in Mozambique.

Investigators catch what is probably the largest cocaine dealer in Brazil

He was on the run for more than 20 years, but now it has ended. Gilberto Aparecido dos Santos was arrested in Mozambique on Tuesday. The man with the code name “Fuminho” is considered the largest cocaine dealer in Brazil. He spent his last moments in freedom in a luxury hotel that recalls the backdrop of relevant Netflix series such as “Narcos”: lush swimming pools under palm trees, located in the most expensive district of the Mozambican capital Maputo.

The arrest is a huge success for the Brazilian police, who acted in concert with agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Mozambican police. Dos Santos was one of the most wanted people in Brazil. He was considered the most senior head of the Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC) drug gang, who was not in prison. According to experts, São Paulo-based PCC is the most powerful mafia organization in Brazil. It controls prisons, numerous slums and large parts of drug and weapon smuggling. Dos Santos’ arrest in Mozambique shows that the gang has long been operating internationally. Most recently, he was said to have been entrusted with expanding the drug business in Africa.

In 1999, Dos Santos escaped from a prison in São Paulo, together with Marco Willians Herbas Camacho, called “Marcola”, who was later to become the head of the PCC. While “Marcola” was caught again, Dos Santos managed to flee to Bolivia. From there he is said to have been monitoring arms and cocaine smuggling into Brazil for years and to carry out the orders that PCC boss “Marcola” gave out of prison. According to reports, this also included the murder of unwanted competitors. In addition, Dos Santos is said to have established contacts with the Italian mafia group ‘Ndrangheta and finally to have taken care of all the international cocaine smuggling of the PCC.

Dos Santos’ plan to get the top PCC chief out of jail failed. In February 2014, he is said to have attempted to fly Marcola out of a prison near São Paulo using a fake military helicopter. However, the Brazilian police got wind of it and had the PCC chief transferred to another prison. A similar project failed again four years later.

Dos Santos itself had repeatedly escaped the authorities. In 2014, for example, when the DEA wanted to strike in a villa in the US state of Florida, he fled to Panama shortly before. In the end, however, the noose around the drug boss had tightened. Brazilian police officials announced in 2019 that Dos Santos’ arrest was imminent. According to experts, the fact that she has now succeeded is a major blow to the PCC. It could damage the gang’s international drug business, possibly their supremacy in Brazil.

It is still unclear whether dos Santos will be delivered to his home country. When he was arrested in Mozambique, he carried 15 grams of marijuana in addition to 15 mobile phones – a rather modest amount for an international dealer.

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