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Operation Durkheim | Information Brokerage, Brazilian Style

This criminal enterprise invaded the privacy of at least 10,000 victims, according to federal police estimates

The Brazilian Federal Police announce what promises to be a fascinating case, one that will shed light on what is apparently a thriving black bag political disinformation industry.

São Paulo/SP – Brazilian federal police today [ — 26 November — ] launched Operation Durkheim, with the objective of bringing down two criminal conspiracies, one specializing in the sale of confidential information and the other involved in crimes against the national financial system. Thirty-three persons were arrested and 87 warrants were served in São Paulo, Goiás, Distrito Federal, Pará, Pernambuco and Rio de Janeiro.

The investigation began in September 2011 during the course of an inquiry into the suicide of a federal police again in Campinas, in December 2010. The incident suggested that confidential information obtained in police investigations was being improperly used to blackmail politicians suspected of involvement in fraudulent contract bidding.

In the course of the investigation, two criminal organizations were identified, operating independently and in parallel. The groups were connected by a single suspect who played a role in both.

Evidence collected for the case uncovered a very large network of illegal espionage, in which vendors of confidential information presented themselves to customers as private investigators. As suppliers, they posed as employees of telephone companies, banks and civil servants, with access to confidential information. Among the victims of the scheme were politicians, judges, a TV network and a bank.

The other organization was mainly involved in moving money offshore through foreign exchange transactions not sanctioned by the Banco Central.

Some  400 federal police took part in the operation, serving 33 arrest warrants, 34 material witness warrants and 87 search warrants … all of them issued by the Second Federal Criminal Bar of São Paulo

The suspects will be charged with revealing secret information, bribery and bribe-taking, violation of official secrecy, illegal wiretapping, violation of financial privacy, irregular foreign currency transactions, tax evasion and money laundering, with sentences ranging from 1 to 12 years in prison.

* The operations was named for the French intellectual Durkheim, author of  Suicide, in reference to the events that gave rise to the operation.

So who are the victims of this crime? A vice-president of the Brazilian Football Federation is in defensive mode regarding reports that he was victimized by the scheme.

Otherwise, the PF has remained tight-lipped thus far — appropriately enough, given the involvement of its own personnel in the case.

Brazilian police and prosecutors are known for their leakiness, however.

“One group specialized in illegal espionage of private lives and frequently resorted to violations of financial, telephone, and banking information, and police databank queries. The other group — the doleiros, as they are known — specialized in illegal offshore money transfers.”

During the operation 10 police agents were investigated, of which three were federal police and one a retired fed. Also involved were five state judicial police and two military police troopers. “We suspect these groups illegally violated the privacy of thousands of victims.  We are able to prove that at least 180 were targeted,” said Troncon.

As details trickle in, Veja reports a wider range of supposed victims:

AMong the victims are a Senator, a federal cabinent member, two mayors, two senior judges, a bank, a TV retransmitter, and a large number of business owners.

More Victim Names Emerging

Correio Braziliense reports that S. Paulo mayor Kassab is among the victims in the case.

Cited in federal police intelligence reports as one of the politicians surveilled by the gang arrested during Operation Durkheim, Kassab (PSD) denied having been blackmailed by the scheme.  Leader of the government benches in the  Senate, Eduardo Braga (PMDB-AM) was also cited as a victim, along with other lawmakers and members of the judiciary. The criminal enterprise invaded the privacy of at least 10,000 victims, according to federal police estimates.

Holy cow: 10,000?

On indication that the wiretapping equipment was under the control of a central figure was an e-mail send February 27 by  Maikel Jorgeto Aldo Barretis. They discussed the surveillance of the former cabinet ministry and current secretary-general of social security, Carlos Gabas. “I talked to the client about it. He said he was interested in matters involving the Bancoop case. From what I could gather from Google, it has been nearly 20 years. But let’s see what we can do.”

Bancoop is the Bank Employees’ Residential Coop of São Paulo, founded by a branch of the PT. São Paulo mayor Gilberto Kassab (PSD) was monitored as well. Judge  Márcio Ferro Catapani, of the Second Federal Bar, ordered the arrest of 33 suspects, among them Itamar Damião, a veteran cloak and dagger man …

Damião googles up as the recently elected deputy mayor of Nazaré Paulista, of the  Christian Social Party (PSC). The mayor is someone named Júnior of the PT.

“The vast amount of evidence collected in this case points to Itamar Damião as the leader of the criminal organization,”says Catapani. “An enormous criminal scheme has been uncovered, specializing in the sale of confidential information. …”