Latest Brazilian Corruption Scandal Involves Several Army Officers

It’s getting harder and harder to keep abreast of all the big scandals going on in Brazil. Just in the last few days more than 70 congressmen were charged in a case involving overpriced ambulances (the Sanguessugas – Leeches – Scandal) and the whole Assembly House of Rondônia state, with the exception of one state deputy, was arrested after being accused of embezzlement.

Then yesterday, August 11, the Brazilian Federal police announced that they had arrested 30 military men, public servants and businessmen who were allegedly getting kickbacks in a scheme involving bidding for Army and school food in the northern state of Amazonas. Among those detained: 10 military men on active duty and one retired.

Ten of those arrested are from the Army, and among them seven are Army officers. They include Rio Grande do Norte’s colonel Vitor de Fellipes and two lieutenant-colonels Francisco de Souza and Omar Santos from Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, respectively.

The Federal Police work was named Saúva Operation for an agricultural plague, a feared and widespread Brazilian leaf cutting ant. The inquiry swept across six states: Amazonas, Rio Grande do Norte, Ceará, Rondônia, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo as well as Brasí­lia, the Federal District.

Although some of the arrests occurred in other Brazilian states, according to Kérsio Pinto,  superintendent of the Amazonas state’s Federal Police the food gang acted only in Amazonas.

Among the nine public servants being charged we have the president of Amazonas state’s Bidding Commission, Roberto Carbonari Santana. People working for the Education and Finance Secretaria were also detained.

The leader of the scheme, according to authorities, was Cristiano da Silva Cordeiro. He was one of the  11 businessmen dealing with food distribution and supply who were also arrested. Cordeiro owns 20 food companies.

Gold Distribuidora de Alimentos, Norte Distribuidora, Global Logí­stica and Big Norte were some of the companies created by Cordeiro and his family to lay their hands on the public money.

Saúva operation got its name from the notion of the organization inside an ant colony with its workers and queen. "If we kill the queen, the gang dissolves," said Josenildo Cavalcante, a Federal Police chief. "We have already caught the leader of the scheme: businessman Cristiano da Silva Cordeiro".

According to investigations from Brazil’s Federal Revenue Service and the Federal Police, the 30 companies involved in the scheme were doled out US$ 164 million in the last six years, but declared only US$ 12.8 in their tax filings. In 2005 alone, the 32 individuals charged with fraud had a US$ 24.6 governmental windfall.

According to the Brazilian authorities, there were four big business groups involved in the scheme. They created fictitious companies that participated in governmental biddings. Sometimes they entered the same bidding with several different names.

In some instances, food from the government’s warehouses were stolen by public workers and sold to Cordeiro who then sold it back to the government at premium prices. Sometimes the product unloaded, like beans and powdered milk, were already spoiled, improper for consumption.

The suspects can be charged with gang formation, feeding fake data in databases, embezzlement, active and passive corruption, money laundering, influence peddling and several other felonies, misdemeanors and peccadillos. Here’s a list of those arrested by the Federal Police:

From the Army

Colonel Vitor Augusto de Fellipes – Rio Grande do Norte
Lieutenant colonel. Francisco Nilton de Souza Júnior – Ceará
Lieutenant colonel Omar Santos – São Paulo
Captain Erick Correa Basuí­no de Lima – Distrito Federal
Captain Henrique dos Santos Botelho
Captain. Fábio José Capechi
Captain Carlos Alberto Teixeira Ramos – Rio de Janeiro
2nd Sergeant, Francivaldo da Costa Gomes
3rd Sergeant, Joelson Freitas of Jesus
3rd Sergeant, Alexandre Da Silva Souza


Adalto Ram Portela Júnior
Adams Emmanuel Pinto Cavalcante
Alberto Paulo Cavalcante Xavier
Claudomira Pinto Cavalcante
Cristiano da Silva Cordeiro
Derik Costa Limeira (Son of João Leitão)
Elisângela Alves de Aguiar (Lica)
João Leitão Limeira
Júlio Cesar Ferreira de Almeida (Julinho)
Lamark Barroso de Souza
Ricardo de Oliveira Lobato

Vice-governor’s advisor
Manoel Paulino da Costa Filho

Finance Secretary
Afonso Wolf Moraes

Finance Secretariat Employee
Graça Maria Rocha Fonseca da Silva

Education Secretariat’s  employees
Aparecida Maria Fernandes Júnior
Dyrce da Conceição Barros Edwards

Superintendent of the Cona (National Supply Company)
Juscelino de Souza Moura

Amazonas’s Bidding Commission president 
Roberto Carbonari Santana

Inspectors from the Amazonas Sanitary Vigilance Commission 
Cimara  Santos da Silva
Maristela Lake Pinheiro


  • Show Comments (3)

  • ch.c.

    Serving prisons terms ??????????? Come on !!!!
    —-they ALL go into prison for a very short period of time with BIG fanfare in the medias…..until they are released….with much less fanfare……because they are ALL acquitted of being guilty !

    For the politicians at the senate/congress it is even worse : they are not judged by your “Justice” but in secret votes by their peers at the senate/congress just as corrupted. And 95 % are absolved of having done something illegal !
    They also all get the Habeus Corpus so they have no obligation to answer clearly to the investigators.
    And they can also resign by themselves. By doing so…..they can go freely and openly and present themselves for the next elections !

    Few realize the tricks of the corrupted polioticians : they even have created laws that protect them with total impunity…..except at the start of the media revelations…..that anyway all end up in a big Pizza as you call it yourselves, due to the laws protecting them !

    Your Justice and Constitution is just a shame to mankind and humanity !

    And the Brazilian society is so smart….that they re-elect the same criminals….those who have stolen their money !

    Is that not funny ?

  • david darman

    George, get real.
    “Brasil…might …have a future as long as corrupt politicians…serve prison terms”.Hello? Not only do convicted corrupt politicians not serve prison terms, they are not removed from office AND DO NOT HAVE TO RETURN STOLEN MONEY. Corruption, crime and violence are endemic to the country. This is why Brasil will remain a second rate, third world country despite an articially strong currency, abundant natural resources, and a strong available workforce. Unless something on the order of a neutron bomb occurs, Brasil will limp through the 21st century just as it did the previous century with a few have a lots and a a lot of have nots.

  • George

    I am actually beginning to think that Brazil’s government might have a future, as long as the corrupt politicians are continually found and actually serve prison terms.

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