HomeNewsBriefBrazil’s PCC, Mimicking the Country, Shifts Towards China
BRIEF

Brazil’s PCC, Mimicking the Country, Shifts Towards China

BRAZIL / 19 JAN 2015 BY KYRA GURNEY EN

A news report in Brazil, citing a government investigation, says the PCC criminal organization uses bank accounts in the United States and China to launder money, illustrating how the São Paulo gang is, in some ways, using Brazil's increasing economic ties with countries such as China to hide their illegal businesses.

Estadão says an investigation conducted by police and the public ministry in São Paulo revealed the First Capital Command's (PCC) financial operations in the United States and China, where the group maintains bank accounts to launder drug trafficking proceeds and purchase drugs and weapons. According to the government investigation, the PCC uses five front companies and at least one foreign exchange brokerage to send money to both countries, and operates the accounts from computers in Paraguay.

Investigators discovered the existence of the accounts thanks to documents seized during a December 22, 2014, raid at a foreign exchange brokerage in São Paulo.

InSight Crime Analysis

Criminal groups are often reflections of businesses in their countries of origin, and, in that respect, the PCC's move to use the Chinese as an economic base is not surprising. Brazil is the world's seventh largest economy, and China became Brazil's largest export destination in 2009. Camouflaging illicit business under those circumstances is far easier.

Still, to think that the PCC started as a São Paulo prison gang makes the transformation something special. The PCC has expanded throughout Brazil and into Paraguay, South America's largest marijuana producer and a major cocaine transit nation. In addition, the criminal group has sent emissaries to Bolivia and allegedly forged ties with Italy's 'Ndrangheta mafia and the Islamic militia group Hezbollah.

In July of last year, a police operation that led to the arrests of 40 alleged PCC members identified one key PCC member, Wilson Jose Lima de Oliveira, alias "Neno," operating out of the United States. According to Estadão, authorities believe Oliveira was sent to the United States to make contact with Mexican drug cartels.

SEE ALSO: PCC News and Profile

China appears to be the latest country in the PCC's expanding international network, but the PCC is far from the first Latin American criminal organization with a Chinese connection. Mexican authorities have seized shipments of methamphetamine precursor chemicals originating in China, while iron from illegal mines controlled by Mexico's Knights Templar allegedly supplies Chinese markets. In Colombia, Chinese weapons have been seized from the Rastrojos criminal group, and in Central America, Chinese buyers allegedly facilitate wood trafficking in Nicaragua and Honduras.

Meanwhile, China is increasingly investing in Latin America, spending over $13 billion on foreign direct investment in Brazil in 2010 and reportedly planning to increase investment in Brazilian infrastructure, ties that may make illicit dealings between criminal groups in both nations far more common. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BOLIVIA / 1 JUL 2016

Authorities in Brazil and Bolivia carried out a joint operation against a group suspected of international drug trafficking in the…

BRAZIL / 5 JAN 2022

A recent cyberattack that hit government websites in Brazil, including platforms that track vaccinations and epidemiological data on COVID-19, has…

COLOMBIA / 11 APR 2013

Colombian officials say that Interbolsa, a large brokerage firm that collapsed under mysterious circumstances last year, may have laundered money…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…