The presence of a new Brazilian crime boss operating on the border with Paraguay illustrates the sophisticated expansion strategy of Brazil’s most powerful gang and the important role the border region plays in transnational organized crime.
Sources in Paraguay’s security forces told news outlet ABC Color that Sérgio de Arruda Quintiliano Neto, alias “Minotauro,” an alleged member of the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC), is the new crime boss in the Paraguayan border town of Pedro Juan Caballero, where the criminal group maintains a well-established presence.
Locally, Minotauro also goes by his last name, Neto, and he uses Paraguayan identification documents under the name Celso Matos Espíndola. He may have begun operating in the region to fill the vacuum left when PCC leader Elton Leonel Rumich da Silva, alias “Galã,” was arrested in Rio de Janeiro earlier this year. Galã had allegedly led the organization in the same border region since mid-2016.
Minotauro rose to power in Rio de Janeiro’s Rocinha favela, and reports leaked to security forces show that the Brazilian police had already suspected him as the new PCC leader in Paraguay.
The crime boss made headlines in March after he allegedly ordered the murder of a police officer in Ponta Porã, the Brazilian town lying directly across the border from Pedro Juan Caballero. The police countered with an operation in which they found Paraguayan identification documents but failed to arrest Minotauro.
Brazilian authorities have also levied charges against the gang leader, including money laundering, falsifying public documents and identity theft.
InSight Crime Analysis
Brazilian gang presence along the border with Paraguay is not new. But the PCC’s interest in consolidating power in Pedro Juan Caballero shows growing sophistication in its transnational organized crime activities, a necessary strategy as it contends with other gangs moving into the region from Brazil, among them Red Command (Comando Vermelho).
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Criminals from Brazil and other countries take refuge in Pedro Juan Caballero and its surrounding border region because it serves as a strategic location for continuing criminal activities while evading justice in their home countries.
Minotauro’s alleged rise in the Paraguayan city’s underworld also shows that a new generation of Brazilian criminals is cropping up in Paraguay. And they are willing and able to aggressively challenge institutions and commit violent acts against not only other criminals, but also local businesses and authorities.