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. 

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.

Related Content

BRAZIL / 22 NOV 2012

São Paulo's secretary for public security has resigned, following criticism of his handling of a wave of gang-police violence in…

BRAZIL / 17 JUN 2015

Fourteen names appeared in the indictment that accompanied the dramatic downfall of the heads of global football. All fourteen were…

CACHIROS / 3 NOV 2015

Honduran businessman and politician, Yani Rosenthal, has allegedly turned himself over to authorities, following US indictments on money laundering charges…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Strategic Communications Manager Job Description

12 FEB 2021

InSight Crime is looking for a full-time strategic communications manager. This person needs to be able to work in a fast-paced world of daily news, high-profile investigations, national and international…

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …