HomeNewsBriefPCC Stalwart in Prison After Botched Rescue Attempt in Paraguay
BRIEF

PCC Stalwart in Prison After Botched Rescue Attempt in Paraguay

BRAZIL / 14 JAN 2021 BY CHRIS DALBY EN

The reported leader of the PCC in Paraguay, known as “Bonitão,” has been extradited back to Brazil after a tumultuous few days that saw gang members stage a daring, yet unsuccessful, attempt to break him out of custody.

Giovanni Barbosa da Silva, alias “Bonitão,” was apprehended on January 9 by Paraguayan police in the border city of Pedro Juan Caballero. According to a statement by the Attorney General’s Office, he had been sought by authorities in Paraguay since June 2020 on charges of criminal organization, drug trafficking and weapons trafficking. Barbosa da Silva was believed to be the Paraguay commander for the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC), authorities said.

His importance to the organization became apparent a few hours after his arrest. Early on January 10, about 40 armed assailants reportedly attacked the police facility where Barbosa da Silva was being held. They initially took three police officers hostage but security forces were able to fight back, rescue their colleagues and capture two of the attackers, according to an EFE report citing police sources.

SEE ALSO: The Rise of the PCC: Expansion in Brazil and Beyond

Later that day, Barbosa da Silva was turned over to Brazilian authorities at the bridge separating the two countries at Foz do Iguaçu and then transferred to a federal penitentiary. The two other arrested PCC members were kept under custody in Paraguay.

On the night of January 11, Brazilian authorities tracked a number of the PCC members who had taken part in the attack to free Barbosa da Silva to a house in Ponta Porã, a town just across the border from Pedro Juan Caballero, according to media reports. A firefight broke out that eventually spilled out onto the streets and left eight gang members dead.

The violence has continued along the border with a police officer being shot and killed on January 12 in Pedro Juan Caballero. That same officer, Fredy César Diaz, had reportedly helped to fight off the rescue attempt a few days earlier.

According to Brazilian police reports, Barbosa da Silva is very close to Anderson Lacerda Pereira, alias “Gordão,” a suspected top PCC drug trafficker, money launderer and art aficionado who was once connected to the theft of works by Pablo Picasso.

Prior to setting up shop in Paraguay, Barbosa da Silva was based in São Paulo, where he allegedly directed PCC operations in the north of the city and where he was injured in a 2017 shoot-out, according to a report by UOL.

InSight Crime Analysis

The long-term investigation by Brazilian and Paraguayan authorities that led to Barbosa da Silva’s identification and arrest, as well as the attempt to rescue him, leaves little doubt he was a key operator for the PCC in Paraguay. But the PCC’s sheer depth in numbers, financial clout and organizational strength have seen it repeatedly shrug off seemingly significant blows.

A previous Paraguay boss for the PCC,  Sérgio de Arruda Quintiliano Neto, alias “Minotauro,” was arrested in February 2019 but was able to continue wielding significant influence over gang operations from inside prison.

SEE ALSO: São Paulo, Paraguay and Beyond: The PCC’s Growing Power

Similarly, while Paraguayan security forces have been able to arrest dozens of PCC gang members, often thanks to intelligence from their Brazilian counterparts, the PCC has a long history of extending its influence and recruiting new members inside prisons.

In January 2020, 75 PCC members were able to tunnel out of a prison in Pedro Juan Cabellero, with the country’s Justice Minister stating that the gang may have paid $80,000 to prison officials to allow the escape.

The continued inability of Paraguay to make any real ground in its fight against the PCC has allowed the gang to turn much of the country into a base of operations. With much of the gang’s supply of cocaine coming through Paraguay and with PCC members able to operate across the border with virtual impunity, the next Bonitão may not take long to emerge.

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 / 10 NOV 2011

Brazilian police arrested a gang leader trying to escape a Rio de Janeiro favela in the trunk of a car.

BRAZIL / 2 OCT 2017

In early July, authorities in Brazil captured one of the world's most wanted drug trafficking suspects: Luiz Carlos da Rocha,…

BRAZIL / 23 JUN 2011

A hacking group managed to temporarily take down three government websites in Brazil, as well as the site of state…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…

THE ORGANIZATION

Exploring Climate Change and Organized Crime

10 SEP 2021

In July, InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley moderated a panel for the Climate Reality Project's regional series of workshops for young climate activists in the Americas. The week-long event…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gearing Up a New Class of Interns

3 SEP 2021

InSight Crime is readying its newest class of interns – from universities in Europe and the Americas – to begin investigative work on a number of high-impact projects. For the…

THE ORGANIZATION

Tracking Environmental Crime in the Amazon

27 AUG 2021

Next week, InSight Crime launches an investigation – conducted with Brazilian think-tank the Igarapé Institute – on the sophisticated organized crime structures and armed groups that…