HomeNewsParaguay's Manhunt for Missing Brazilian Prisoners Continues

Paraguay's Manhunt for Missing Brazilian Prisoners Continues


A large-scale search operation for four missing Brazilian prisoners is into its second week in Paraguay, following a mass escape from a prison in the south of the country.

Eight days after 35 prisoners broke out of the Misiones prison near Paraguay's border with Argentina, 31 of the escapees have been recaptured, according to a news report by Noticias Paraguay.

Most of the escapees were members of the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC), Brazil's largest criminal gang, which has established a strong presence in Paraguay.

But the hunt for the final four has become international as authorities believed they may have sought to cross over into Argentina. In the Argentine province of Corrientes, a joint police and military operation is on to try and find the missing PCC members.

SEE ALSO: Prosecutors, Mayors and Prison Directors - Paraguay's Frightening Assassination Problem

According to Paraguay’s Security Minister Cecilia Pérez, the prisoners escaped during family visiting hours on August 7, taking guards hostage before scaling down the prison's walls via a rope made from bedsheets. With the prison just 100 kilometers from Argentina, security officials identified early on that some of the escapees may have headed for the border.

Heads have already begun to roll. Amid claims that guards may have been complicit in the escape, the prison director and the regional head of prisons who oversaw Misiones have been fired, while the justice minister also offered his resignation.

InSight Crime Analysis

Prison escapes in Paraguay are common and it seems that no government action can stop them.

After this latest break out, President Mario Abdo ordered that the Misiones prison be put under special management for 30 days while the investigation to find those responsible is carried out. But firing a prison director and guards is unlikely to change much.

Prisoners, especially from the PCC, have regularly managed to escape despite these crackdowns.

In 2019, after an infamously violent riot between the PCC and their Paraguayan rivals, Clan Rotela, left 10 prisoners dead, Abdo ordered military units, including tanks, to surround prisons.

But in January 2020, up to 75 members of the PCC escaped from a penitentiary in the border city of Pedro Juan Caballero near Brazil via a tunnel that had taken three weeks to dig. It is hard to believe such a complex operation could have been completed without being noticed by the soldiers inside and outside the prison. Indeed, Pérez suggested guards had received up to $80,000 to look the other way.

SEE ALSO: Pedro Juan Caballero – The Descent into Madness of a Paraguay Border Town

Other times, even if an escape was not successful, it showed that criminal groups were hardly intimidated by security forces. In January 2021, around 40 alleged PCC members assaulted a police jail in Pedro Juan Caballero to free one of their leaders. Several police officers were taken hostage although police reinforcements were able to fight off the gang and rescue their colleagues.

Ultimately, little since the Misiones escape suggests the government has any new ideas. With a small cocaine kitchen openly being run inside one prison and senior officials allegedly being drug traffickers, it seems unlikely that Paraguay’s control over its penitentiaries is going to improve soon.

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.


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.


Related Content


Contraband Chinese cigarettes are pouring into Latin America, infiltrating old smuggling routes and threatening longstanding criminal empires.


Argentine province bordering Uruguay has become a transit hub for drug trafficking out of Paraguay, revealing a new route used…

BRAZIL / 31 AUG 2021

The pictures shocked Brazil and the world. Bank robbers fleeing the scene at high speed in their getaway vehicle, with…

About InSight Crime


Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…


Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…


World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…


InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…


Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…