Police in Brazil Capture Enduring Figure of LatAm Drug Trade

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Police in Brazil have captured a little known figure that has played a major role in the historical development of Latin America’s drug trade, and whose links to prominent drug traffickers stretch from Mexico’s “El Chapo” Guzman to Colombia’s Pablo Escobar.

On September 17, Brazilian authorities arrested Mario Sergio Machado Nunes, alias “Goiano,” in a luxury apartment in the coastal city of Guaruja, reported EFE. Nunes is perhaps one of the most veteran drug traffickers in the world, having been a wanted man since the 1980s when officials assert he worked directly with Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel, becoming the cartel’s main contact in Brazil.

More recently, he is said to have had connections with Colombian drug lord Henry de Jesus Lopez, alias “Mi Sangre” — who was a member of a number of drug trafficking outfits before his capture in 2012, including the Oficina de Envigado and the Urabeños — and Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel.

SEE ALSO: Mi Sangre Profile

According to EFE, Goiano trafficked drugs to 27 countries in Europe and Africa — primarily via maritime routes from the port of Santos, Brazil — and invested in the development of technology for clandestine drug transport in containers and submarines. He is also said to have attempted to establish a private airline to transport drugs, reported Semana.

Goiano was wanted by Interpol, as well as both Brazilian and Colombian officials. He is also known as the “King of Disguises,” having allegedly undergone plastic surgery in order to change his appearance.

In 2014, a two-and-a-half year investigation into Goiano’s organization led to the arrest of five suspects, although Goiano himself evaded capture.

InSight Crime Analysis

Goiano has had a long and colorful career in Latin America’s drug trade, and the scale, reach, and longevity of his trafficking operations is almost unequaled.

SEE ALSO: Brazil News and Profiles

As the point man for Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel in Brazil, he helped build that country’s internal market for drugs — which has grown since the 1980s into the world’s second-largest consumer of cocaine.

Yet he also played a part in Brazil’s increasing role in the international drug trade, trafficking drugs to Europe, the United States, China, and parts of the Middle East. According to Semana, he was particularly focused on setting up drug operations in Africa. Indeed, over the years Brazil has become an important jumping off point for drugs headed to West Africa en route to Europe, with Brazil’s Port of Santos (the largest port in Latin America) transforming into a key hub for narcotics exports.

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