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Police Blotter | Operation Drugstore Cowboy


Source:  Estado de S. Paulo/ Portal ClippingMP.

In 2007, as Colombian drug kingpin Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia was being busted by Brazilian Federal Police, he gave some memorable quote, to the effect that “If you want to shut down drug trafficking in this state, the first thing you need to do is get rid of Denarc.”

Denarc, the state narcotics  division, reinforced a certain reputation for criminal savagery during the case. It was reported that several police officers had offered to leave Juan Carlos be in his Alphaville condominium in exchange for a periodic fee …

And now for something not completely different  …

Seven state judicial police were detained during an investigation into an extortion scheme  involving drug traffickers, as well as the leaking of police cases.

Six of the officers, among them two senior detectives, worked for Denarc, the antidrug squad. The men are accused of receiving a monthly stipend of R$ 30,000.

Largest raid since 1987. Another  3 arrests took place in Ribeirão Preto and Campinas,where wiretaps were used to found the allegations.

After the operation, which constituted the largest anticorruption probe since 1987, the Secretary of Public Safety said that Denarc would be reformed.

Two of the policemen arrested were senior officials: The supervisor of the Investigations Unit, Clemente Castilhone Junior, and  Fábio Amaral de Alcântara, of the 3rd Support Precinct.

13 arrest warrants were issued for state police officers – 11 in São Paulo and 2 in Campinas, where the investigation began, based on wiretaps of drug traffickers requested by GAECO – the anti-organized crime unit – from the public prosecutor.

Prosecutor Amauri Silveira Junior, who works for Gaeco in Campinas, said that “the action of certain policemen” made it impossible  for his office to do its job. “There was an attempt to forge evidence and to coopt and coerce victims and witnesses. For that reason, we asked for temporary incarceration. “

According to Silveira, the case has suffered from leaks since the beginning. He did not, however, confirm that Castilhone or any of his subordinates were involved in passing police intel to criminals. “On this point, the court will have to decided.” He did say, however, that there were signs of involvement by other police , and new investigations will be launched.

During the operation, supported by police internal affairs, 8 prosecutors spent four hours analyzing documents at Denarc, in search of evidence. According to the prosecutor, policemn received bribes for leaking information or obstructing investigations. Among the crimes investigated are robbery, extortion, kidnapping, criminal conspiracy, and active and passive corruptionEntre os crimes investigados estão rou¬bo, extorsão mediante seques¬tro, formação de quadrilha, corrupção ativa e passiva e tortura.

Maurício Blazeck says that Denarc will undergo a renovation, “not just because of cases like this”,but because it is “a department that has operated  for 25 years.” One idea is to streamline the number of agents. Internal affairs would not discuss details, but did say that certain suspects already face disciplinary action or criminal charges, which have yet to lead to a definitive verdict.

The investigation began in October, targeting traffickers related to the Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC) inCampinas. Prosecutors say that a woman suspected of trafficking gave evidence against the scheme. In the mean time, the prosecutor gathered more evidence from wiretaps which captured conversations of the kidnapper  Wanderson Nil¬ton de Paula Lima, o Andinho, in prison since 2002 but still in command.

Criminals in Campinas, led by Andinho, allegedly had to pay R$ 300,000 for police to cover up operations and leak information. The police also received up to R$30,000 a month each.  The situation grew tense when a bribe payment was late and the police pressured relatives of the bandits for the sum.

One of the ramifications of yesterday’s operation is the occuption of shantytown barracks in the region. Two persons were arrested: an adolescent and his mother, accused of trafficking after the police found marijuana at their house. Another person was taken into custody in Serra. One of the accused reportedly made a successful escape.

Castilhone’s lawyer, João Batista Augusto Júnior, calls the arrest of his client “arbitrary,” but has not yet studied the case. Family members say he suspected that investigations were underway, but did not imagine he would be arrested.

Castilhone has a reputation of being the right hand man of De¬narc director Marco Antônio de Paula Santos, who accompanied the case yesterday, but said that only Internal Affairs could comment on the incident. “I knew nothing about it. “