Arrests Suggest Crooked Cops Are Aiding PCC’s Expansion in Paraguay

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The arrest of an alleged Brazilian crime boss, a purported collaborator and a policeman working as a bodyguard in Paraguay’s capital city illustrates how police corruption and sophisticated tactics may be facilitating the expansion of Brazil’s most powerful crime group.

Paraguayan authorities arrested Eduardo Aparecido de Almeida, alias “Pisca,” an alleged leader of the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC), on July 18 in Paraguay’s capital Asunción.

Paraguay’s Attorney General’s Office identifies Pisca as the second-in-command for the PCC’s Paraguayan faction known as “Raio X,” while the country’s National Anti-Drug Secretariat (Secretaría Nacional Antidrogas – SENAD) call him the group’s “regional boss.” The two Paraguayan institutions collaborated with Brazil’s federal police in the investigation that lead to Pisca’s arrest.

Lorena Ledesma, the Paraguayan prosecutor leading the investigation, told Paraguay’s Radio 970 AM program that Pisca was living for at least a month in a “very secure home” in Asunción with closed-circuit monitoring of the blocks surrounding the luxury property, which had been rented using false personal documents.

These security cameras alerted Pisca to the arrival of authorities, but when he attempted to flee on foot, SENAD officials apprehended him.

According to Ledesma, Pisca is an “active member” of the PCC in charge of “coordinating the connections” between the Brazilian group and counterparts in Bolivia and Paraguay for the trafficking of drugs.

SEE ALSO: PCC News and Profile

News outlet ABC Color reported that Paraguayan authorities suspect that Pisca may have been involved in dividing up the more than $11 million stolen by the PCC in a sophisticated commando-style heist in the border city Ciudad del Este last year. ABC’s sources suggest that Pisca may have fled from Brazil with his family a few months ago seeking refuge in Asunción after tensions exploded between PCC members over the distribution of the money.

Paraguayan authorities quickly moved to extradite Pisca to Brazil, where he is wanted for his alleged involvement in crimes ranging from drug trafficking and criminal association, to kidnapping and homicide, as well as for escaping a São Paulo prison. And within the same day of his arrest, Pisca was turned over to Brazil’s federal police.

In addition, authorities arrested another Brazilian national identified as Ricardo Moraes Alves, described as a “close collaborator” of the alleged PCC boss.

Carlos Alfredo Mendoza, a Paraguayan national police officer, was also arrested on accusations of serving as Pisca’s personal body guard and “providing his identification documents to the Brazilian so that he could move around the city,” Ledesma told Radio 970 AM.

Following Mendoza’s arrest, the commissioner and deputy commissioner of his police unit were discharged pending investigation because Mendoza was scheduled to be on duty at the time authorities apprehended him.

InSight Crime Analysis

The arrest of an alleged PCC leader in Paraguay’s capital far from the border with Brazil may indicate that the powerful criminal organization is deepening its penetration into the neighboring country with the help of corrupt police officers.

The PCC have been battling in recent years to establish strongholds in towns like Pedro Juan Caballero and Ciudad del Este in Paraguay’s eastern marijuana-producing region bordering Brazil, possibly by sub-contracting local groups as well as sending Brazilian members.

But Pisca’s arrest marks the first time Paraguayan authorities have tracked down a presumed PCC leader in the capital, which sits closer to the country’s western border with Argentina.

SEE ALSO: Paraguay News and Profile

The seeming expansion of the PCC beyond the strategically important border region appears to have been facilitated by collusion with members of the country’s national police force, which has a long history of corruption.

According to Paraguayan authorities, Pisca was likely able to enter the country with false identification documents, rented an upscale mansion and moved around Asunción with ease using his police partner’s own identity. This is also likely how he evaded police attention for several months.

It’s unclear how Pisca’s arrest will impact the PCC’s operations in Paraguay, particularly because authorities are not clear what his exact role in the group was. However, if recent developments in Pedro Juan Caballero are any indication, new PCC crime bosses are typically ready to step in following arrests to maintain strongholds.

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