Two of Brazil’s most important criminal groups have ended a three-year truce and are now fighting for control over a strategic drug trafficking route in the northern Amazon region. The broken alliance could provide a window for the country’s most powerful gang to seize greater control of the area's drug trade.
The Family of the North (Família do Norte – FDN), a powerful crime group based in the Amazon metropolis of Manaus, has broken off an alliance with the Rio de Janeiro-based Red Command (Comando Vermelho), according to security force sources cited by UOL.
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The two groups had formed a pact in 2015 aimed at controlling the Solimões River, which is used to traffic cocaine from Colombia and Peru into Brazil. However, the FDN leader who brokered the deal, Gelson Carnaúba, alias “Mano G,” reportedly betrayed his former gang by switching sides and joining the Red Command.
Signs of the break began to emerge earlier this month, when police uncovered a song indicating that Mano G, who is currently imprisoned in the southern state of Paraná, had become the Red Command's connection in Manaus. The song praises the Red Command, and contains taunts and threats aimed at the FDN.
Local authorities say they've seen a recent spike in murders in Manaus related to the breakdown of the partnership.
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Authorities say the split between the FDN and the Red Command could open the door for Brazil's most powerful crime group, the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital - PCC), to attempt to take over the key Solimões River trafficking route.
According to UOL, the PCC and Red Command previously shared access to an important trafficking route in southern Brazil that was used to import cocaine from Bolivia. But after the June 2016 murder of Brazilian trafficker Jorge Rafaat Toumani and the end of the PCC's long-running alliance with the Red Command that same year, the PCC took total control of this route, forcing the Red Command to look north to Colombia and Peru for cocaine.
SEE ALSO: PCC News and Profile
The alliance between the FDN and the Red Command was meant to stave off a PCC incursion into Manaus and the state of Amazonas where the city is located. The PCC has been engaged in an aggressive campaign of expansion recently throughout Brazil as well as in neighboring countries.
With the FDN and Red Command now at odds, the PCC would face a divided opposition should it attempt to assert control in Amazonas. And authorities suspect the group is planning such a move. The PCC has reportedly partnered with a smaller, local criminal group known as the Guardians of the State (Guardiões do Estado) in an effort to expand its role in the multibillion-dollar Amazon drug trade.