Ruling Party Mayor Latest Casualty in Brazil Gambling Scandal

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A Brazilian politician from the ruling party has been linked to a gambling boss known as “Carlinhos Cachoeira,” suggesting that the case is set to implicate more top members of the political establishment.

A recently released video shows Raul Filho (see picture), mayor of Palmas, capital of Tocantins state, apparently negotiating with Carlos Augusto Ramos, better known as “Carlinhos Cachoeira” (Charlie Waterfall). The kingpin is at the center of a case connecting gambling, organized crime, and political corruption.

The video, which was reportedly recorded at Cachoeira’s brother-in-law’s house in 2004, Filho, then candidate for the mayorship, appears to secure a promise of 150,000 reais (about $75,000, today) to use for a “big show” in his campaign. Filho then implies that if he is elected mayor he will offer Cachoeira more business opportunities, mentioning real estate, transport and water services. He agrees to set up five accounts to receive Cachoeira’s deposit, G1 reported.

Federal police found the video in the house during the February 2012 operation that resulted in the kingpin’s arrest.

With the release of the video, available in Portuguese below, Filho is now among the most prominent members of the ruling Workers’ Party (PT) to face scrutiny for ties to the gambling boss.

InSight Crime Analysis

Cachoeira rose to power as a “bicheiro,” a boss of the hugely popular illicit lottery known as “bicho,” in which tickets printed with images of animals offer a chance at a big payout. But Cachoeira was more than a gambling boss — he built a vast corrupt network to further his own illicit interests as well as those of his allies in big business. And, as revealed by this recent video, Cachoeira was skilled at building an enormous web of political contacts.

O Globo has published an interactive graphic outlining the scope of Cachoeira’s political and business dealings. It has not been updated with Filho’s case, and it will likely require more expansion as the case continues and more politicians are accused of dirty dealings with the gambling boss.

According to political pundit Merval Pereira, the most important issue at hand is determining how far organized crime has penetrated Brazil’s various levels of government. Pereira said the Workers’ Party had been focused on investigating opposition politicians, particularly Goias state Governor Marconi Perillo, G1 reported. Since Cachoeira appears to have recorded all of the conversations in his office, anybody who spoke with the bicheiro there could be at risk, Pereira said.

The fact that the Workers’ Party has been unable or unwilling to protect its own politicians against continuing revelations suggests that the true scale of Cachoeira’s corruption may soon be revealed. While Filho is currently facing other legal problems, having been recently sentenced to a year in prison for environmental crime, other officials from the party have also been accused of ties to the gambling boss.

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