Brazil's P.C.C.: True Power Behind the Violence

Posted in Latin America | 24-May-06 | Author: Samuel Logan

The violence that paralyzed Sao Paulo from May 12 until May 19 revealed the raw power of the First Capital Command (P.C.C.), considered one of the most powerful organized criminal factions in Brazil. Prison riots that erupted in nearly 100 prisons led to over 150 murders, destroyed city buses, and terrorized millions of citizens, propelling Brazil onto the world stage. Yet a more deeply-rooted system run by the P.C.C. reveals how powerful this gang has become.

On May 10, just two days before the riots began, two members of the Sao Paulo Department of Investigation of Organized Crime, Godofredo Bittencourt Filho and Ruy Ferraz Fontes, testified before the Brazilian Government Inquiry Commission on the Traffic of Illegal Weapons about their understanding of the true power of the P.C.C.

Bittencourt and Ferraz testified that the P.C.C. is a very serious problem that is only growing. They blamed Sao Paulo authorities for separating and sending to other Brazilian states various leaders of the P.C.C. by pointing out that because of this separation, the P.C.C. now has a strong presence on a national level in Matto Grosso do Sul, Parana, Bahia, Rio Grande do Sul, and Brasilia.

According to Bittencourt and Ferraz, the P.C.C. controls over 140,000 prisoners in the state of Sao Paulo alone. Another 500,000 individuals support the organization outside the prison system. This group helps enforce some 100 cases of extortion organized by the P.C.C. on a daily basis, representing some 70 percent of kidnapping cases in Brazil's financial capital of Sao Paulo.

Apart from a proven ability to organize simultaneous, widespread prison riots and destabilize public security, the organization has constructed a network of informants, lawyers, blue collar workers, gun and drug dealers, and bankers to do its bidding. This network is held together by a criminal financial system that finances education, facilitates crime and engages in killings. Bittencourt was quoted as saying, "to be [associated] with the P.C.C. is good business."

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