The Brazilian organized crime is being armed by the military of Brazil’s neighboring countries like Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. There are indications that even an Uruguayan general is part of an international gang that sends arms to the likes of the prison gang PCC (First Command of the Capital) in São Paulo and the Comando Vermelho (Red Command) in Rio de Janeiro.
The criminal connection was discovered thanks to wiretapping done by the Federal and Civilian police in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost state in Brazil.
According to Rio’s daily O Dia, Brazilian authorities conducted 51 wiretappings in which they intercepted conversations between Brazilian criminals commenting among other things that Uruguayan and Argentinean military not only sold the weapons and ammunitions they needed, but also offered escort for the arms diverted from military arsenals.
That 2005 investigation nicknamed Serraluz led to the arrest of 31 people. A still ongoing inquiry in the Brazilian Congress has concluded that a quarter of all weapons acquired by the Brazilian Mafia comes from the security forces in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.
Most of the information came from revelations made in the intercepted phone conversations by Jair de Oliveira, a drug boss better known as Cabeludo (The Hairy One). Oliveira, a partner of Fernandinho Beira-Mar, a drug lord now in a maximum security prison, revealed that an Uruguayan general stationed close to the Brazilian border was able to provide a much coveted product: explosives.
"I got myself a little general," says Oliveira in one transcribed message. "He is the boss. He has access to three, four barracks."
According to the police, Oliveira, who has been arrested, freed and then re-arrested, owns several car dealerships for laundering the money he gets with drug trafficking. He is described as an expert in his area and a man who "operates the scheme in a meticulous and daring manner."