HomeNewsBriefRelatives of Jailed PCC Members Launder Millions For Brazil Gang
BRIEF

Relatives of Jailed PCC Members Launder Millions For Brazil Gang

BRAZIL / 11 JUL 2019 BY CAT RAINSFORD EN

Brazilian prison gang, the PCC, has laundered an estimated $15 million of drug money through accounts opened by relatives of jailed members, demonstrating the growing sophistication of the gang’s criminal tactics.

The money-laundering scheme was exposed as a result of “Operation Welfare," a series of police raids across the state of São Paulo targeting suspects associated with the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC). Arrested during the operation were 35 people, including 19 women.

SEE ALSO: First Capital Command (PCC) Profile

According to the São Paulo police, the scheme worked by bribing visitors of detainees to allow the deposit and transfer PCC money through their bank accounts. These visitors, mostly wives and girlfriends of newer gang members, were offered assistance with transport, rent and medical expenses in exchange for their collaboration.

In this way, the PCC is believed to have laundered at least $280,000 per month from drug trafficking since 2013.

Among those arrested in the raids was a criminal known as “Motoboy," believed to be responsible for administering the scheme. Motoboy coordinated with PCC cells inside the state’s prisons to enlist the visitors, and then coordinated the withdrawal of the money channeled through their accounts.

InSight Crime Analysis

Although the PCC has long maintained a large-scale drug trafficking network, the sums laundered through this system provide fresh evidence of the sheer scale of these operations and the elaborate mechanisms used to conceal them.

The prison gang, formed in the early 1990s, first entered the drug trade by coordinating trafficking inside Brazil's jails. By 2012, the group's drug trafficking profits had ballooned to $32 million a year. The PCC has since expanded its operations across the continent.

Ledgers seized in 2018 revealed that the PCC had developed large-scale money laundering strategies, including through currency exchange businesses and gas stations purchased with illicit funds. The recent bust shows that the group is also laundering millions through mechanisms that are more subtle and harder to trace.

SEE ALSO: PCC Files Document Gang’s Explosive Growth in Brazil and Beyond

The scheme builds on the PCC’s history of exploiting imprisoned members and their female relatives. The group charges “union dues” from members in jail, and in 2015 was found to be bribing women to deliver information and communications devices to detainees.

These patterns of exploitation are becoming increasingly common across the continent. In Guatemala, for instance, gangs have been found to be using the bank accounts of their wives and girlfriends to launder the profits from extortion.

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 / 1 SEP 2016

The ousting of President Dilma Rousseff from office does little to further Brazil's battle against high-powered corruption networks, suggesting instead…

CARIBBEAN / 10 MAY 2021

High-ranking officials in the Dominican Republic are accused of siphoning millions of dollars in state funds through a religious non-profit,…

BRAZIL / 18 APR 2013

Seven former Brazilian justice ministers have declared their support for the decriminalization of drug possession for personal use, mirroring a…

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…