São Paulo Annals of Crime: Did Narcs Play the Lollipop Guild for Suckers?

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The Estadão’s Web site redesign — it has many features in common with Colombia’s El Tiempo, I find — has lots of bugs to iron out. Which reveals an interesting factoid: The Estadão server now runs on Penguin power at Port 80.

Want to get rid of drug trafficking in São Paulo? Just get rid of the state narcotics division. –Juan Carlos “Chupeta” Abadia, cited by the Folha de S. Paulo

Polícia afasta 8 policiais acusados de achacar megatraficante: The Estadão (São Paulo, Brazil) follows up on charges that the local narcotics division extorted the biggest Colombian drug dealer since Escobar, rather than arresting him.

Eight police officers accused of such shennanigans have now been suspended, as I think is implied by the news that they were afastado. I am never quite sure: police disciplinary procedures can be something of a mystery.

As an earlier report by the Folha apparently forgot to mention, when the wife of a member of the Lollipop Guild was “taken in for questioning” — which sounds legitimate enough — a large sum of money was allegedly paid to get her back out again.

See

Abadia, known as “Chupeta” — which I tend to translate as “The Lollipop Kid,” since chupeta means the same thing in Colombia as pirulito in Brazil — is quoted elsewhere today as saying he wants to be extradited to the United States sooner than now.

U.S. prisons have cable TV and ping pong.

São Paulo jails reputedly don’t. And then some.

The Brazilians, however, reportedly want first crack at him, unlike the Mexican government in the Ye Gon case. The Los Angeles Times recently published a report that jeers at Brazilian federal police — it uses a lot of demeaning adjectives to describe, for instance, “operations with colorful names,” as I recall.

But a recent poll indicates the PF enjoy a high degree of prestige among the public here, for such feats as purging their own ranks of corruption and going up against some really big-time organized criminal organizations.

White collar perp-walks, as one observer noted, astutely, are also popular. “Equal justice under the law” being regarded as a farce by large swaths of the povão. Which may be why white-collar perps tend to scream that the PF are a “politicized Gestapo.”

Zhenli Ye Gon, the DEA’s “man behind the meth” in Mexico — the man with that huge mountain of money stashed in his closet, some of which he claimed was part of a political slush fund to be laundered for PAN — similarly reported having been extorted rather than busted, in his case by Mexican federales.

SÃO PAULO – A Delegacia Geral decidiu afastar três delegados, quatro investigadores e um agente policial investigados pelo Ministério Público e pela Corrgedoria da Polícia Civil sob a suspeita de envolvimento nos achaques, seqüestros, roubos e tortura praticados por policiais contra integrantes da quadrialha [sic] do megatraficante colombiano Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadía.

State judicial police leadership decided to suspend three precinct commanders, four detectives and a rank-and-file police agent who are being investigated by prosecutors and internal affairs on suspicion of involvement in assaults, kidnappings, robbery and torture committed by police against members of the [Lollipop Guild] headed by world-class drug lord Ramirez Abadía.

Na sexta-feira, 5, o ministro da Justiça, Tarso Genro, defendeu que Abadía só seja extraditado após cumprir a pena no Brasil. També na sexta, o juiz Fausto de Sanctis ouviu os últimos cinco acusados de integrar o bando do megatraficante, entre eles Daniel Bráz Maróstica e Ana Maria Stein. O advogado do casal, Julio Clímaco Jr., não comentou os achaques que seus clientes teriam sofrido.

On Friday, the federal justice minister, Genro, argued that Abadia should only be extradited after doing his time in Brazil. The same day, Judge de Santcis heard from the last five alleged members of the drug lord’s gang, among them Daniel Bráz Maróstica and Ana Maria Stein. The couple’s attorney, a Mr. Clímaco, would not comment on the attacks his clients allegedly suffered.

A Corregedoria da Polícia Militar investiga o envolvimento de outros policiais no caso. O Estadão dest sábado revelou que assustado com a virulência e com o apetite de policiais corruptos do Departamento Estadual de Investigações sobre Narcóticos (Denarc), o colombiano Henri Edival Lagos resolveu deixar o Brasil. Conhecido como Primo ou Pacho, era o homem de confiança de Abadía. Foi seqüestrado e espancado por uma equipe do Denarc em julho do ano passado em Aldeia da Serra e, para não expor a quadrilha que lavava dinheiro do tráfico do Cartel Norte do Vale, deixou o País e atualmente é foragido da Justiça Federal.

The military police internal affairs division is looking into the involvement of other policemen in the case. This Saturday’s Estadão revealed that, frightened by the virulence and voracious appetite of corrupt DENARC officers, the Colombian Henri Edival Lagos decided to leave Brazil. Known as Primo or Pacho, he was a close associate of Abadia’s. He was kidnapped and beaten by a DENARC team last July in Aldeia da Serra and, so as not to expose the gang that was laundering money for the Norte do Vale cocaine cartel, left Brazil and is currently a fugitive from Brazilian justice.

There’s a great shaggy dog story you hear down here — I forget where I read it — about two al Qaeda terrorists who come to Brazil to destroy the Christ the Redeemer statue. They wind up getting robbed minutes after stepping off the plane, then passing systematically through every other urban nightmare Rio has to offer.

Surviving by a miracle, they write back to Osama there in Tora Bora suggesting that, rather than attacking it, they set up training camps in Brazil instead. “Talk about your terrorism! We’re amateurs next to these people!”

Someday someone is going to write a good true-crime book on what happened to the gang that tunneled into the Central Bank of Fortaleza and got away with hundreds of millions.

Spot reports suggest that what these poor little Colombian drug lords got was a goodnight kiss in comparison.

Na primeira investida, os policiais exigiram US$ 1 milhão, mas o bando de Abadía pagou US$ 400 mil, em espécie, pelo resgate de Pacho. Dois meses depois, o mesmo grupo de policiais foi atrás do piloto André Luiz Telles Barcellos, tido como braço direito de Abadía. Pediu R$ 1 milhão e levou US$ 220 mil, mais R$ 85 mil que o piloto carregava em uma sacola, da venda de um veículo.

In their first approach, the police demanded US$1 million, but the Abadia gang wound up paying US$400,000 in cash to ransom Pacho. Two months later, the same group of police went after pilot André Luiz Telles Barcellos, whom they took to be Abadia’s right-hand man. They asked for a million reals and came away with US$220,000, plus R$85,000 the pilot had with him, in a sack, after selling a vehicle.

The Folha says they threw in some free jet skis, too, in that first deal.

As outras vítimas dos policiais foram o operador de Abadía em São Paulo, Daniel Bráz Maróstica, e sua mulher, Ana Maria Stein. Os policiais acreditavam que Ana Maria era mulher de Pacho, por usar um de seus carros, e a levaram para “averiguações” no prédio do Denarc. O grupo pagou R$ 150 mil para uma equipe soltá-la e outros R$ 60 mil para um investigador, que negociou a soltura com os policiais. Dias depois, Maróstica foi abordado por policiais na rua. Dirigia uma moto da quadrilha, levada pelos policiais.

The other victims of the policemen were Abadia’s operative in São Paulo, Daniel Bráz Maróstica, and his wife, Ana Maria Stein. The police thought Ana Maria was Pacho’s wife, because she drove one of his cars, and took her off to DENARC for “investigations.” The group paid R$150,000 to one team to let her go and another R$60,000 to a detective who negotiated the release with them. Days later, Maróstica was stopped in the street by policemen. He was driving a motorcycle belonging to the gang, which police took away from him.

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The Colombian drug-lord and post-surgery chief of the Lollipop Guild: Like stealing nose-candy proceeds from a baby?

This really is — or should be — sort of a golden age for crime reporters in Brazil, though the genre is still looking for its Norman Mailer or James Ellroy.

Crime fiction sells well, and there are some really good writers in that field.

Caco Barcellos and others did innovative work to establish the genre here, and wrote some excellent, though sometimes controversial, books — Barcellos, whose last book chronicled the life and times of a Rio drug lord, now works for Globo from the safe distance of London.

But a lot of it — as Brazilian policework often does as well, as many researchers and observers note — still suffers from cheap, bloodthirsty sensationalism at the expense of the slow, intricate drama of investigation.

I was just reading such a book on the case of Tim Lopes, the TV Globo reporter murdered in a gruesome fashion by Elias the Madman. (A young man arrested in Recife was recently reported to have confessed to the crime.)

The level of lurid “exterminate the brutes!” rhetoric is astonishing.

But that is about all there is to the book.

Little is revealed about the facts surrounding the case, I thought.

For example: What kind of a occupational “news safety” program does an employer have, anyway, when it sends a reporter to a perilous off-the-grid narcoghetto to do a sex-themed hidden-camera scandal piece on massively armed and extremely dangerous people, anyway?

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