Police in Brazil have arrested a man who allegedly oversaw the trafficking of 200 kilos of cocaine a month from Bolivia and Paraguay and supplied Rio de Janeiro's principal criminal group, highlighting the international connections of the Red Command's local suppliers.
Eduardo Herculano da Silva, alias "Airplane," was arrested while negotiating a drug sale in one of Rio's largest slums, Complexo da Mare, following a shootout between security forces and his bodyguards, reported O Dia. Police commissioner Delmir Gouveia said at the time of his capture the trafficker had been planning to get plastic surgery and escape Brazil.
Police said Herculano da Silva was the Red Command's principal cocaine supplier, and that he worked independently distributing cocaine in favelas controlled by the group, reported O Dia. Terra, meanwhile, reported he was a member of the gang.
According to Gouveia, Herculano da Silva admitted to getting drugs from Bolivia in shipments of 150 to 200 kilos, which were trafficked in truck tires. G1 Globo reported he moved 200 kilos per month and additionally brought cocaine from Paraguay.
Herculano da Silva had been a fugitive from prison since 2008, and had eight arrest warrants outstanding at the time of his capture, reported G1 Globo.
InSight Crime Analysis
This is the third arrest in under a month of an important Red Command supplier. In April, police arrested a man they called the group's key arms and drugs provider, and another suspect considered the top drug distributor in some sectors of Complexo da Mare, who also had links to Paraguay.
Both the Red Command and São Paulo prison gang the First Capital Command (PCC) are known to have established a presence in Bolivia and Paraguay -- each key transit countries and significant producers of cocaine and marijuana respectively. The Red Command is reported to traffic up to one ton of cocaine a month out of Paraguay.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of the Red Command
The recent arrests provide another sign of these connections, and also highlight the Red Command's reliance on suppliers apparently operating outside their core structure. The arrests may have some impact on the group's supply lines, but it is likely new distributors will quickly rise to replace the captured suspects.