Brazil: Police Arrest Dozens from Organized Crime Group

Authorities in Brazil on Thursday arrested over 60 members of the country’s largest and most powerful drug gang, which police say is responsible for the murder and disappearance of people throughout Brazil, The London Free Press reported.

COT 6883607046Brazilian Federal Police (André Gustavo Stumpf, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Police arrested 61 members of the Sao Paulo based First Capital Command (PCC), in 14 states. Officials claim the organized crime group is responsible for inciting violent confrontations with other gangs while trying to expand their reach into more states and countries.

Earlier this month, Brazilian authorities seized documents that illuminated the expanding nature of the group's influence and international growth. According to InSight Crime, the documents detailed the group’s income streams, money laundering tactics, and membership patterns.

Authorities extrapolated from the records that the gang’s illicit activity potentially earns them up to US$200 million annually. This figure is more than quadruple official estimates from 2015.

Investigators also estimated that the group’s ranks nearly doubled over the past six years in Sao Paulo alone - from 6,000 members in 2012 to nearly 11,000 members today. Throughout the rest of Brazil, membership is assessed to have grown from just over 3,000 in 2014 to more than 20,000 today.

In January, 56 prisoners were decapitated in the city of Manaus as part of a prison riot that stemmed from clashes between PCC and a local criminal group known as the North Family, according to the Guardian.

The drug gang arose in a Sao Paulo prison in the 1990s to pressure authorities to improve prison conditions, but quickly began using its power inside the state’s prisons to direct extortion and drug dealing operations on the outside.