SAO PAULO – The Federal Police said it launched an operation on Tuesday targeting the finances of the First Capital Command (PCC), which is Brazil’s largest criminal organization and whose leaders run it from prison.
Some 180 Federal Police officers were deployed across the country to serve 55 search warrants and 30 arrest warrants, whose subjects include eight people already incarcerated on convictions for other crimes.
The goal of “Operation Cravada” is to dismantle the financial networks used by the gang to collect and move the money used to finance criminal activities, such as purchases of firearms and drugs, the Federal Police said in a statement.
The funds are also used to pay for transportation, as well as the living expenses of PCC members and family members staying near prisons.
Numerous bank accounts are used to transfer money and the PCC employs different techniques to launder funds and make it difficult to trace them, the Federal Police said.
The gang, according to Federal Police investigators, used about 400 bank accounts to handle around 1 million reais ($256,000) per month.
All of the accounts traced to the gang have been frozen, authorities said.
The investigation targeting the PCC’s financial operations was launched in February after police identified bank accounts belonging to gang members who were serving time at the regional prison in Piraquara, a city in the southern state of Parana.
Investigators learned that the PCC’s operations extended to different cities in Brazil and officials eventually decided to focus on seven states – Parana, Sao Paulo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Acre, Roraima, Pernambuco and Minas Gerais.
For years, judicial officials and the Federal Police have been after the PCC, a gang founded in the 1990s inside a prison in Sao Paulo.
The PCC is involved in drug trafficking, illegal arms sales, especially in border regions, stealing freight and fuel theft.
The PCC is actively waging turf wars with other gangs, including the Red Command (CV), a gang from Rio de Janeiro, with the conflicts sometimes resulting in prison violence.
Dozens of other criminal organizations also operate in Brazil and have been spreading across the country.
In late July, Comando Clase A (CCA) members fought with Red Command members inside a prison n Altamira, a city in the Amazonian state of Para, leaving 58 inmates dead.
Officials said 16 inmates were beheaded during the fight, while four others died from asphyxiation inside an SUV while being transported to another prison.