The capture of a top Anti-Bala gang member in Paraguay threatens to weaken a key criminal alliance in Brazil's southern border state of Rio Grande Do Sul.
On August 11, Leonardo Silva de Souza, alias "Nego Leo," was arrested in Pedro Juan Caballero, a Paraguayan city on the border with Brazil, according to a statement by Paraguay's National Anti-Drug Secretariat (Secretaría Nacional Antidrogas – SENAD).
De Souza is reportedly one of the top leaders of Anti-Bala, a coalition of criminal gangs in Brazil’s southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul, SENAD revealed. Much of Anti-Bala's influence has come from its partnership with Brazil's largest and most powerful gang, the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital - PCC).
SEE ALSO: Bala na Cara Profile
“He is a coordinator of illicit activities. This person was responsible for managing shipments – mainly of drugs and arms – on to the Brazilian market,” Francisco Ayala, communications director for SENAD, told Radio 780 AM.
In 2016, several gangs in Rio Grande Do Sul’s city of Porto Alegre banded together to create the Anti-Bala coalition to take down the Bala na Cara (Bullet in the Face - BNC) gang.
Citing intelligence reports, SENAD confirmed that the Anti-Bala is associated with the PCC.
InSight Crime Analysis
Silva de Souza's arrest is bad news for Anti-Bala. Besides being the right-hand man of Anti-Bala boss alias "Nego Jackson," he coordinated support from the PCC.
This may threaten the entire partnership between the PCC and Anti-Bala, which would be a crippling blow to the latter. Over the last five years, the group has been unable to truly contest the control of Bala na Cara in Rio Grande do Sul. An InSight Crime investigation found that Anti-Bala controlled some microtrafficking and drug retail points in the state capital of Porto Alegre, but it did not seem likely to become the area's principal criminal threat.
SEE ALSO: Profile of Rio Grande do Sul
And while Anti-Bala has helped the PCC in Rio Grande do Sul in exchange for drugs and weapons, it is not the only group to do so.
The PCC has also maintained an operational alliance with Os Manos, a larger group controlling drug trafficking routes between Paraguay and Rio Grande do Sul. These partnerships have allowed the PCC to make inroads into the strategic state. If it is now strong enough, the PCC may decide to jettison Anti-Bala and redirect efforts to partners able to provide larger-scale support.