RIO DE JANEIRO/MAPUTO (Reuters) – One of Brazil’s top cocaine traffickers has been arrested in Mozambique, officials in both countries said, underlining the growing global footprint of the First Capital Command (PCC) gang, Brazil’s most powerful criminal organization.
Gilberto Aparecido dos Santos, aka “Fuminho,” had been on the run for more than 20 years until his capture in Maputo on Monday, and was one of Brazil’s “most-wanted” fugitives, Brazil’s federal police said in a statement.
“The prisoner was considered the largest supplier of cocaine to a gang operating throughout Brazil, as well as being responsible for sending tonnes of the drug to several countries,” the statement said.
Originally formed as a prison gang in Sao Paulo, the PCC has spread across Brazil and is increasingly moving cocaine overseas, especially to Europe and Africa.
In March, Reuters reported that Brazil has become one of the top suppliers of cocaine to Europe, transforming the country’s role in the trans-Atlantic drug trade.
Leonardo Simbine, a spokesman for Mozambique’s Criminal Investigations Services, told Reuters that local police had been tipped off by Interpol that dos Santos had entered the country in mid-March.
“We did our investigations and found him at a luxury hotel in Maputo. We arrested him with two accomplices, two Nigerian citizens,” Simbine said.
On his way to the maximum security prison where he is now being held, dos Santos refused to answer questions from the press. “Talk to my lawyer,” he said.
Brazil has 40 days to submit an extradition request, Simbine said, adding that dos Santos is being held on charges of drug possession and using a false passport.
In its statement, Brazil’s federal police said the operation to catch dos Santos also involved the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Mozambique police.
The Brazilian federal police also accused dos Santos of allegedly financing a rescue plan for PCC boss Marcos Willians Camacho, or “Marcola,” who is in a federal jail in Brasilia. The alleged plan prompted Brazilian authorities to heighten security at the jail in February, the statement said.
Local media have reported that dos Santos was Camacho’s “right-hand man.”
Writing by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Alistair Bell and Richard Chang