Small Wars Journal

Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 28: PCC Exploits Medical and Dental Clinics to sustain Criminal Governance in Greater São Paulo

Sat, 07/11/2020 - 4:33pm

Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 28: PCC Exploits Medical and Dental Clinics to sustain Criminal Governance in Greater São Paulo

John P. Sullivan, José de Arimatéia da Cruz, and Robert J. Bunker

On 3 June 2020, Brazilian police in Greater São Paulo launched Operação Soldi Sporchi (Operation Dirty Money), serving search and arrest warrants against members of the First Capitol Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC). The PCC was alleged to have used medical and dental clinics to launder money earned from the gang’s drug trafficking activities and treat injured gang members to avoid detection by the police.  The investigation also exposed corrupt connections to public officials and transnational links to the ‘Ndrangheta.

Policia Civil de São Paulo

Policia Civil de São Paulo supported by Polícia Rodoviária Federal conduct Operação Soldi Sporchi (Operation Dirty Money). Source: Policia Civil de São Paulo

Key Information: Allan de Abreu and Josmar Jozino, “PCC Veste Branco.” Revista Piauí. 30 June 2020, https://piaui.folha.uol.com.br/pcc-veste-branco/:

Traficante da facção usou 38 clínicas médicas e odontológicas para lavar dinheiro, comprar insumos para o tráfico e socorrer “irmãos” baleados…

…ele participou das primeiras tentativas do PCC em internacionalizar-se rumo à Europa, ao enviar uma pequena quantidade de cocaína – 32 kg – para a Ndrangheta, máfia italiana, do porto de Santos até Gioia Tauro, na Calábria…

…Pereira e o filho Gabriel Donadon Loureiro Pereira, 24 anos, administravam 38 clínicas médicas e odontológicas na Grande São Paulo, todas em nomes de testas de ferro, que serviam a três finalidades: lavavam o dinheiro do tráfico; justificavam a compra de produtos utilizados no refino da pasta base de cocaína, como a lidocaína, também utilizada por dentistas – a polícia encontrou em uma das clínicas uma fórmula para refinar a droga –; e serviam de hospitais para socorrer membros do PCC baleados em confrontos com a polícia na Grande São Paulo. Como os hospitais precisam informar a polícia sobre qualquer paciente ferido a tiros, Pereira colocou suas clínicas na região metropolitana para atenderem os “irmãos” da facção baleados. Eram os “hospitais do PCC”…[1]

Key Information: “Operação da PC em Guarulhos mira facção que lavava dinheiro com clínicas médicas.” Guarulhos Online. 2 June 2020,  https://guarulhosonline.com.br/noticias/operacao-da-pc-em-guarulhos-mira-faccao-que-lavava-dinheiro-com-clinicas-medicas:

Segundo a investigação, um grupo lavava dinheiro vindo do crime em clínicas médicas e odontológicas que atendiam bandidos baleados e feridos em confronto com a polícia.

A quadrilha ainda contava com contratos de gestão de serviço público, como coleta de lixo, em cidades da Grande São Paulo. Isso era possível pela criação de empresas de fachada. Os mandados são cumpridos em 12 municípios, incluindo a capital paulista.[2]

Key Information: “Polícia Civil cumpre mandados contra lavagem de dinheiro em clínicas.” Gazeta de S. Paulo. 3 June 2020, https://www.gazetasp.com.br/grande-sao-paulo/2020/06/1069626-policia-civil-cumpre-mandados-contra-lavagem-de-dinheiro-em-clinicas.html:

São 60 mandados de busca e apreensão e 22 mandados de prisão temporária; operação é realizada na Capital e em outras 11 cidades…

…A investigação trabalha com a suspeita de que o dinheiro era lavado em clínicas que realizavam atendimentos em bandidos baleados e feridos em confronto policial. Os suspeitos atuavam junto às prefeituras de municípios da Grande São Paulo em contratos públicos.

Segundo o delegado Fernando José Góes Santiago, “através dos contratos celebrados, a organização criminosa conseguiu repasse de milhões de reais provenientes do erário público”.[3]

KeKey Information: “Polícia Civil de SP faz operação contra suspeitos de lavagem de dinheiro e organização criminosa.” G1 (Globo). 3 June 2020, https://g1.globo.com/sp/sao-paulo/noticia/2020/06/03/policia-civil-de-sp-realiza-operacao-contra-suspeitos-de-lavagem-de-dinheiro-e-organizacao-criminosa.ghtml:

A Polícia Civil de Guarulhos realiza nesta quarta-feira (03) uma operação contra suspeitos de lavagem de dinheiro do tráfico e organização criminosa…A suspeita é de que a quadrilha agia na administração pública de alguns municípios por meio de contratos administrativos.

A suspeita é a de que o dinheiro do tráfico de drogas era lavado em clínicas médicas e odontológicas que atendiam bandidos baleados e feridos em confronto com a polícia e que, também, conseguia obter contratos de gestão de saúde por meio de organizações sociais, infiltrando-se na administração pública.

O grupo também atuava junto às prefeituras de cidades da Grande SP em contratos de gestão de serviço público, como por exemplo, na coleta de lixo e em hospitais.[4]

Third Generation Gangs Analysis

Sá Júnior, the adopted son of a PCC (Primeiro Comando da Capital) drug trafficker, is credited with hatching a scheme to launder funds derived from the gang’s cocaine trafficking. The scheme involved medical and dental clinics operated by the PCC to launder money, justify the purchase of scheduled narcotics, and serve as de facto ‘hospitals’ for PCC gang members injured in the course of their illicit activities.  This clandestine treatment scheme allows the gang to elude requirements to inform the police about gunshot wounds and avoid detection.[5]

The scheme was investigated by São Paulo Civil Police (Policia Civil de São Paulo) and culminated in a warrant service conducted by 350 police officers from their Guarulhos section (Polícia Civil de Guarulhos) and supported by 100 Federal Highway Police (Polícia Rodoviária Federal – PRF) vehicles and attending officers.[6]

Operation Dirty Money

Armaments seized by Policia Civil de São Paulo during Operação Soldi Sporchi (Operation Dirty Money). Source: Policia Civil de São Paulo

The warrant service yielded two 7.672 caliber rifles, five 5.56 caliber rifles, three .50 caliber anti-aircraft (anti-materiel) rifles, and eight 9mm pistols.  The underlying investigation suggested that the members of the faction (facção) used torture to enforce their reign of criminal control and extortion. Violence was also augmented by collusion with corrupt public officials and penetration of municipal government to obtain public contracts,  including waste management (garbage) contracts.[7]

The PCC is also alleged to have links to several politicians in the region, including mayors and federal deputies.  They also allegedly maintain ties with influential Evangelical pastors.[8] The corrupt links to government are reported by Allan de Abreu and Josmar Jozino at “PCC Veste Branco.”[9]

A investigação policial mostrou que o chefão do PCC mantinha conversas com vários políticos paulistas, entre prefeitos e deputados. Um deles é o deputado federal Milton Vieira (Republicanos), pastor da Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus e integrante da base do presidente Jair Bolsonaro no Congresso. Em agosto de 2018, Vieira vendeu para a mulher de Pereira, a dentista Silvana Moura Matias, uma casa no condomínio fechado Recanto dos Pássaros, em Jacareí, Vale do Paraíba, por 240 mil reais.[10][11]

In addition to corrupt links to public officials and exploiting medical and dental clinics, it is alleged that the PCC was developing links to the ‘Ndrangheta.[12]  Such links demonstrate the potential for the PCC to consolidate its criminal governance, expand its power, and extend its reach.[13]

The PCC ‘prison-street gang complex’ is following a similar trajectory to other organized criminal entities—specifically Old World and New World mafias — as it begins to achieve greater revenue streams (including semi-legitimate ones) and localized political capacity.[14] The recent waste management contracts, blurring of illegal revenues with medical and dental clinic operations, linkages to corrupt government officials, and ties to community religious leaders are all components of this process as the illicit organization evolves and creates symbiotic-relationships with the more formal society in which it has become embedded.   

Sources

Allan de Abreu and Josmar Jozino, “PCC Veste Branco.” Revista Piauí. 30 June 2020, https://piaui.folha.uol.com.br/pcc-veste-branco/.

“Operação da PC em Guarulhos mira facção que lavava dinheiro com clínicas médicas.” Guarulhos Online. 2 June 2020,  https://guarulhosonline.com.br/noticias/operacao-da-pc-em-guarulhos-mira-faccao-que-lavava-dinheiro-com-clinicas-medicas.

“Polícia Civil cumpre mandados contra lavagem de dinheiro em clínicas.” Gazeta de S. Paulo. 3 June 2020, https://www.gazetasp.com.br/grande-sao-paulo/2020/06/1069626-policia-civil-cumpre-mandados-contra-lavagem-de-dinheiro-em-clinicas.html.

“Polícia Civil de SP faz operação contra suspeitos de lavagem de dinheiro e organização criminosa.” G1 (Globo). 3 June 2020, https://g1.globo.com/sp/sao-paulo/noticia/2020/06/03/policia-civil-de-sp-realiza-operacao-contra-suspeitos-de-lavagem-de-dinheiro-e-organizacao-criminosa.ghtml.

Endnotes

[1] In English, the excerpted text reads: “The faction’s [PCC’s] trafficker used 38 medical and dental clinics to launder money, buy supplies for trafficking and help shot ‘brothers.’”…“he participated in the CCP's first attempts to internationalize towards Europe, by sending a small amount of cocaine—32 kg—to the ‘Ndrangheta, Italian mafia, from the port of Santos to Gioia Tauro, in Calabria.” … “Pereira and his son Gabriel Donadon Loureiro Pereira, 24, ran 38 medical and dental clinics in Greater São Paulo, all in the name of front men, who served three purposes: laundering money from the drug trade; they justified the purchase of products used to refine the cocaine base paste, such as lidocaine, also used by dentists—the police found a formula to refine the drug in one of the clinics; and served as hospitals to help members of the CCP shot in clashes with the police in Greater São Paulo. As hospitals need to inform the police of any patient injured by gunshots, Pereira placed his clinics in the metropolitan region to assist the faction’s ‘brothers’ who were shot. They were the ‘PCC hospitals.’”

[2] In English, the excerpted text reads: “According to the investigation, a group was laundering money from crime at medical and dental clinics that treated bandits shot and wounded in confrontation with the police.” … “The gang still had public service management contracts, such as garbage collection, in cities in Greater São Paulo. This was made possible by the creation of shell companies. The warrants are carried out in 12 municipalities, including the capital of São Paulo.”

[3] In English, the excerpted text reads: “60 search and seizure warrants and 22 temporary arrest warrants were conducted during the operation the Capital and 11 other cities.” … “The investigation works with the suspicion that the money was laundered in clinics that carried out visits to bandits shot and wounded in a police confrontation. The suspects worked with city halls in Greater São Paulo on public contracts.” … “According to delegate Fernando José Góes Santiago, ‘through the contracts signed, the criminal organization managed to pass on millions of reais from the public purse.’”

[4] In English, the excerpted text reads: “The Guarulhos Civil Police conducted an operation on Wednesday (03) against money laundering suspects from the criminal organization and drug trade…The suspicion is that the gang acted in the public administration of some municipalities through administrative contracts.” … “The suspicion is that the money from drug trafficking was laundered in medical and dental clinics that treated bandits shot and wounded in confrontation with the police and that, also, managed to obtain health management contracts through social organizations, infiltrating them—whether in public administration.” … “The group also worked with city halls in the cities of Grande SP [Greater São Paulo] on public service management contracts, such as garbage collection and hospitals.”

[5] Allan de Abreu and Josmar Jozino, “PCC Veste Branco.” Revista Piauí. 30 June 2020, https://piaui.folha.uol.com.br/pcc-veste-branco/.

[6] ibid.

[7] ibid.  

[8] See Luis Adorno, “PCC usava igreja evangélica paera lavar dinheiro em SP, diz PF; pastor é preso.” Noticias UOL. 21 February 2018, https://noticias.uol.com.br/cotidiano/ultimas-noticias/2018/02/21/pcc-usava-igreja-evangelica-para-lavar-dinheiro-em-sp-diz-pf-pastor-e-preso.htm. Criminal links to Evangelical—and neo-Pentecostal—pastors have also been observed in Rio de Janeiro.  See Robert J. Bunker, John P. Sullivan and José de Arimatéia da Cruz, “Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 6 - Holy War in Rio’s Favelas: Bandidos Evangélicos (Evangelical Bandits).” Small Wars Journal. 15 November 2017, https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/third-generation-gangs-strategic-note-no-6-holy-war-rios-favelas-bandidos-evangelicos and Andrew Chesnut, “Pentecostal Gangs in Rio de Janeiro Ratchet Up Their Persecution of Afro-Brazilian Religions under President Bolsonaro.” Patheos. 29 August 2019, https://www.patheos.com/blogs/theglobalcatholicreview/2019/08/pentecostal-gangs-in-rio-de-janeiro-ratchet-up-their-persecution-of-afro-brazilian-religions-under-president-bolsonaro/

[9] Abreu and Jozino, “PCC Veste Branco.” (Note 5).

[10] ibid.

[11] In English, the excerpted text reads: “The police investigation showed that the PCC boss had conversations with several politicians from São Paulo, including mayors and deputies. One of them is federal deputy Milton Vieira (Republicans), pastor of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God and a member of President Jair Bolsonaro's base in Congress. In August 2018, Vieira sold to Pereira's wife, dentist Silvana Moura Matias, a house in the closed condominium Recanto dos Pássaros, in Jacareí, Vale do Paraíba, for 240 thousand reais.”

[12] Abreu and Jozino, “PCC Veste Branco.” (Note 5).

[13] On ‘Criminal Governance’ and the PCC, see Benjamin Lessing and Graham Denyer Willis, “Legitimacy in Criminal Governance: Managing a Drug Empire from Behind Bars.” American Political Science Review, Vol. 113, No. 2, May 2019. pp. 584-606. DOI:10.17863/CAM.38768; Enrique Desmond Arias, “The Dynamics of Criminal Governance: Networks and Social Order in Rio De Janeiro.”  Journal of Latin American Studies, Vol. 38, no. 2, 2006. pp. 293-325. DOI: 10.1017/S0022216X06000721; and John P. Sullivan, “The Challenges of Territorial Gangs: Civil Strife, Criminal Insurgencies and Crime Wars.” Revista do Ministério Público Militar (Brazil), Edição n. 31, November 2019, https://revista.mpm.mp.br/artigo/the-challenges-of-territorial-gangs-civil-strife-criminal-insurgencies-and-crime-wars/.

[14] John P. Sullivan, “The Challenges of Territorial Gangs: Civil Strife, Criminal Insurgencies and Crime Wars.” (Note 13).  

For Additional Reading

John P. Sullivan and Robert J. Bunker, Eds. Strategic Notes on Third Generation Gangs. A Small Wars Journal-El Centro Anthology.  Bloomington: Xlibris, 2020.

Angela Olaya and Josefina Salomón, “PCC’s Rapid Expansion Topic of Debate at InSight Crime Conference.” InSight Crime. 9 March 2020.

John P. Sullivan, “The Challenges of Territorial Gangs: Civil Strife, Criminal Insurgencies and Crime Wars.” Revista do Ministério Público Militar (Brazil), Edição n. 31, November 2019.

Robert J. Bunker, John P. Sullivan and José de Arimatéia da Cruz, “Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 6 - Holy War in Rio’s Favelas: Bandidos Evangélicos (Evangelical Bandits).” Small Wars Journal. 15 November 2017.

Categories: El Centro

About the Author(s)

Dr. John P. Sullivan was a career police officer. He is an honorably retired lieutenant with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, specializing in emergency operations, transit policing, counterterrorism, and intelligence. He is currently an Instructor in the Safe Communities Institute (SCI) at the Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California. Sullivan received a lifetime achievement award from the National Fusion Center Association in November 2018 for his contributions to the national network of intelligence fusion centers. He completed the CREATE Executive Program in Counter-Terrorism at the University of Southern California and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the College of William and Mary, a Master of Arts in Urban Affairs and Policy Analysis from the New School for Social Research, and a PhD from the Open University of Catalonia (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya). His doctoral thesis was “Mexico’s Drug War: Cartels, Gangs, Sovereignty and the Network State.” He can be reached at jpsullivan@smallwarsjournal.com.

Dr. José de Arimatéia da Cruz is a Professor of International Relations and International Studies at Georgia Southern University, Savannah, GA. He also is an Adjunct Research Professor at the U.S. Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute, Carlisle, PA, and a Research Fellow of the Brazil Research Unit at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington, DC.

Dr. Robert J. Bunker is Director of Research and Analysis, C/O Futures, LLC, and an adjunct research professor, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College. He holds university degrees in political science, government, social science, anthropology-geography, behavioral science, and history and has undertaken hundreds of hours of counterterrorism training. Past professional associations include Minerva Chair at the Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College and Futurist in Residence, Training and Development Division, Behavioral Science Unit, Federal Bureau of Investigation Academy, Quantico. He has well over 500 publications—including about 40 books as co-author, editor, and co-editor—and can be reached at docbunker@smallwarsjournal.com .   

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