Authorities in Paraguay have arrested an alleged key member of Brazil's PCC gang, shedding light on the organization's growing operations in the border region between the two countries.
Ledson Moura da Silva, alias "Ledinho," was captured on June 2 in the city of Pedro Juan Caballero, on Paraguay's northern border with Brazil. He was reportedly one of Brazil's 10 most wanted suspects and is accused of homicide, attempted homicide and drug trafficking, reported ABC.
Moura da Silva is also wanted for drug trafficking in Venezuela, Colombia and Bolivia and is being investigated for his possible connection with the May 16 murder of journalist Fausto Alcaraz Garay, who was killed in Pedro Juan Caballero.
According to Crispulo Sotelo, Paraguay's antinarcotics police chief, Moura da Silva ran First Capital Command (PCC) operations in the border region, from where he sent shipments of cocaine and marijuana back to Brazil. He also allegedly managed some of the PCC's bank accounts in Brazil.
In a search of his home in Pedro Juan Caballero, Paraguayan authorities discovered receipts for large deposits into Brazilian bank accounts under different names, which led them to believe that Ledinho used five different identities to manage the PCC accounts.
Prior to living in Paraguay, Ledinho reportedly controlled drug trafficking operations in a neighborhood in the city of Cariacica in the Brazilian state of Espirito Santo, where he has been linked to at least one murder.
InSight Crime Analysis
Paraguay is the biggest producer of marijuana in South America and a major transshipment point for cocaine headed to Brazil. The country grows roughly 30,000 tons of marijuana every year, of which an estimated 80 percent is sold in Brazil, according to the US State Department.
Brazilian drug gangs have set up shop in the border region, which according to Brazilian police allows them to control the drug trade in the area without having to pay intermediaries. The PCC -- one of Brazil's most powerful criminal groups -- is among those that have been found to operate in Paraguay, with members previously captured in the city of Pedro Juan Caballero. The arrest of an apparently powerful member of the group there is further evidence of this growing connection.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of Paraguay
In addition to managing PCC operations in the area, Moura da Silva -- who had reportedly moved to Paraguay a month prior to his arrest -- may have been hiding from Brazilian authorities. According to Amambay Digital (a newspaper from the state where Pedro Juan Caballero is located), this city has become a refuge for criminals escaping from Brazil.