HomeNewsBriefBrazilian Gang Runs Cocaine Trade in Peru's Rebel Heartland
BRIEF

Brazilian Gang Runs Cocaine Trade in Peru's Rebel Heartland

BRAZIL / 5 SEP 2014 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

An emerging criminal group from Brazil may control up to 60 percent of the cocaine trafficked out of Peru, as Brazilian organized crime moves closer the source of the illegal drugs demanded by its booming domestic market, apparently securing supplies directly from the world's top cocaine producer.

According to a confidential report from Peru's anti-drug authority (DIRANDRO) accessed by La Republica, a Brazilian organization known as the First Catarinense Group (Primeiro Grupo Catarinense - PGC) is the top client for several drug trafficking clans based in Peru's Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro River Valleys (known as the VRAEM). The PGC is reportedly displacing Mexican groups like the Sinaloa Cartel, who were formerly responsible for much of the drugs moved out of the VRAEM and the Upper Huallaga Valley.

One of the PGC's principal connections is reportedly Peruvian national Fortunato Lagos Lizarbe. His brother Luis was known as the "King of the VRAEM" as far back as 2007

The PGC moves product directly to Brazil using light aircraft – they allegedly control some 52 clandestine landing strips in the VRAEM and surrounding regions. Neither Peru nor Bolivia have effective control over their air space. They also rely on a combination of land and river routes leading to the Colombian and Brazilian border. The group has reportedly moved drugs through Peru's southern Cusco region into Bolivia as well, before exporting the cocaine and its derivatives to Brazil.

InSight Crime Analysis

The VRAEM is Peru's top coca growing region, producing around 200 tons of cocaine each year. A faction of the Shining Path guerrilla group dominates the region, overseeing coca purchases and protecting the drug shipments that move through their territory.

According to La Republica, the PGC has been operating in the region since 2008 and was a key player in the re-establishment of the country's cocaine air bridge. Peruvian traffickers were once heavily dependent on moving cocaine to Colombia by air, but this route was largely blockaded by the authorities in the 1990s. In recent years, traffickers have turned to a new route that moves cocaine by air into Brazil, often via Bolivia or Paraguay

While Brazilian criminal networks are known to be top purchasers of Peruvian cocaine, this is a rare case of a Brazilian criminal group establishing themselves inside Peru, so as to be closer to the source of their illicit product. Powerful gangs including the First Capital Command (PCC) of Sao Paulo and the Red Command of Rio de Janeiro have mostly confined their presence to Paraguay and Bolivia, two transit nations for the cocaine trade. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Criminal Migration

The cited Peruvian anti-drug agency report, of which no copy has yet appeared, highlights the growth of this relatively small Brazilian organization, and indicates that perhaps they sought to establish a foothold somewhere neither the PCC nor the Red Command have yet reached. As their name indicates, the First Catarinense Group's base of operations is Santa Cantarina, a state in southern Brazil. The organization is modeled on the PCC, but was created much more recently and is believed to have around 2,000 member, compared to the PCC's nearly 12,000. Last year, Southern Pulse reported the group was attempting to expand.

The PGC's alleged leader, Osmar de Souza Junior, has twice escaped jail, once in 2009 and again in 2013 after being captured in Paraguay in 2012, where he was allegedly coordinating the shipment of some 300 kilos of cocaine per month to Brazil. 

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

BRAZIL / 4 FEB 2015

Brazil's most violent major city, the colonial metropolis of Salvador de Bahia on the country's northern coast, has been hit…

BRAZIL / 23 APR 2013

Brazilian authorities have raised the alarm about human smugglers taking advantage of the mass illegal immigration wave into the…

BAGDAD / 3 NOV 2021

Two attacks in recent days against gang members in Panama City have raised alarm bells that acts of shocking violence…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…