Authorities in Paraguay have captured four members of a PCC cell operating on the country's eastern border with Brazil, reinforcing notions that the Brazilian organized crime group is increasing its presence in its neighboring country.
Officers from the country's National Anti-drugs Secretariat (SENAD) arrested the cell's leader Jair Jose dos Santos, alias "Nain," on October 31, alongside three other members, in a house in the border town of Pedro Juan Caballero (see map below), reported ABC Color.
According to EFE, the four Brazilians made up an "armed wing" of the First Capital Command (PCC), one of Brazil's most powerful organized crime groups, and were wanted on charges of drug trafficking, criminal conspiracy, assault and homicide in their homeland.
SENAD chief Luis Rojas said the men would face justice in Brazil and were due to be "expelled," rather than deported, because the deportation process is too time consuming, reported Ultima Hora.
ABC Color reported that guns and "other evidence" were found in the house where the men were captured.
InSight Crime Analysis
While a PCC presence in Paraguay is nothing new, it is their rivals, the Rio de Janiero-based prison gang Red Command, which are more often associated with Paraguay's drug trade. The Red Command, or Comando Vermelho as it is known, has been reported to ship one ton of cocaine out of Paraguay each month. Earlier this year, Paraguayan authorities dismantled an armed wing of the Red Command in another border town just 60 miles from where the PCC cell was captured.
For its part, the PCC is better known for maintaining a heavy presence in Bolivia. However, with Paraguay also a major transshipment points for cocaine and the biggest producer of marijuana in South America (80 percent of which is destined for the domestic market in Brazil, according to the US State Department), the profits on offer and the rapid expansion of the PCC will likely see it increasing its presence in Paraguay. This trend may be spurred by the high level of impunity drug traffickers enjoy in the country's key trafficking corridors.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of PCC
The department of Amambay, where the PCC cell was captured, is also a key trafficking area where the Paraguayan Peoples' Army (EPP) -- which has been linked to drug trafficking -- is known to have a presence and where it has been suggested Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel may be interested in establishing activities.