Brazilian Drug Lord Who Worked with Serbia Arrested

Published: 21 October 2011


Paraguayan police arrested a former key member of the Red Command (Comando Vermelho), Brazil’s infamous Brazilian prison gang, on Wednesday.  Alexander Mendes da Silva, nicknamed "Polegar," was arrested in the town of Pedro Juan Caballero, a reputed hub for smuggling Brazil-bound weapons and drugs. Although the Brazilian authorities have been searching for Mendes since his escape from house arrest in 2009, Paraguayan law enforcement arrested him for carrying false identification. He will be extradited to Brazil next week.

Mendes became famous in 2001 for orchestrating a jail break for members of the Red Command from Rio de Janeiro's Polinter prison.  He and forty others used a truck to block the road, while accomplices drove a car into the prison, allowing 14 leaders of the gang to escape.

Mendes was arrested a year later, and sentenced to 16 years in prison for drug trafficking. After serving seven years of his sentence, Mendes escaped after he was granted house arrest.

Prosecutors allege that Mendes subsequently became involved in drug trafficking in Mangueira, a notorious Rio de Janeiro shantytown and quickly became one of Rio's most wanted criminals.

Mendes worked with Serbian drug lord Goran Nešić, known as Ciga, who was arrested in Brazil in May this year. Nešić was a top ranking Serbian drug lord operating in Brazil, who supplied cocaine to Serbian and Montenegrin drug syndicates.  The drugs ended up in Europe. In Brazil, Nešić worked with Dejan Stojanović, known as Keka, who led a Belgrade drug gang.

Serbian authorities issued an international arrest warrant for Nešić after he was sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of smuggling 24.5 kilograms of heroin from Bulgaria that was intended for Serbia, Netherlands, and Switzerland. He fled to South America before he could be incarcerated.  A police investigation determined that Nešić procured the drugs in Turkey through Naser Rahbar Asl, an Iranian living in Belgrade.