It’s now spread across the region that one of South America’s most infamous cocaine kingpins, one who has circumvented police for three decades and even went as far as to undergo surgery to change his face, has finally been apprehended by Brazilian authorities.
His alleged second in command to his operation was also seized and arrested in a different location during the operation in which police said 150 agents carried out 24 raids, taking hold of an estimated $10 million worth of high priced items like luxury cars, aircraft, farms, as well as other properties.
The name of the operation was ‘Spectrum,’ referring in Portuguese to the phantom-like nature of a fugitive ‘who lived discreetly and in the shadows evading police attempts for almost 30 years,’ the police statement said.
Police said that in addition to using extreme violence da Rocha was being protected by forces with heavy caliber weapons.
When narcotics police homed in on their suspect in Mato Grosso, agents studied ‘photographic data with the old facial characteristics of Luiz Carlos da Rocha and the current identity photograph of Vitor Luiz de Moraes, and concluded that Luiz Carlos da Rocha and Vitor Luiz are the same person’.
The captured fugitive is accused of having headed an enormous cocaine network, which included production in the jungles of Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, and continued through to distribution on the continent and as far away as the United States and Europe.
He is also accused of being one of the main suppliers to the violent drug traffickers that hold sway in large areas of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Cocaine would be flown in small planes from manufacturing points via Venezuelan airspace to remote farms in western Brazil. From there it would be shipped in secret compartments in specially adapted lorries to Brazil’s big cities or for shipment abroad, police said.
Da Rocha is considered to have accumulated $100 million in personal wealth in the form of vehicles, property and deposits in offshore bank accounts, which authorities they will also obtain, as they ‘will be the subject of the second phase of Operation Spectrum.’
While remorseless drug dealers are a staunch and open presence in Brazil’s favelas, the wholesale – and far more lucrative – end of the trade is for the most part obscure .
Less than a week ago, however, there was a spectacular glance into the shady business when an air force jet launched a warning shot to force a bantam plane to land in Goias state in western Brazil.
The suspect aircraft was a total hit, as it was found to contain half a ton of cocaine.
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