Locusts and Caterpillars: The Latest Alagoan Newsflow

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Posted to the Web site of the Alagoas state assembly at 1:35 pm: “FEDERAL OPERATION: Albuquerque is in the House. The president of the state assembly is in the Chamber of Commerce where the legislature is temporarily housed, meetig with [other lawmakers].” In other words, “news of my arrest have been greatly exaggerated”?

The Diario de Pernambuco passes on the Agência O Globo’s dispatch on federal police intervention in the Alagoas state legislative assemby.

I am tracking the story today.

O Globo states that the president of the assembly has been arrested (but provides no source for that statement, at least in the excerpt run by its wire-service client).

Reports that a former governor of the state had been detained for questioning in the case have been attributed in various ways, ranging from an identified institutional source — the Alagoan governor’s office — to “extraofficial sources say” to “speculation is.”

O presidente da Assembléia Legislativa de Alagoas, Antonio Albuquerque (DEM), é um dos acusados de chefiar o esquema que teria desviado R$ 200 milhões em cinco anos dos cofres públicos. Até agora, a operação conjunta da Polícia Federal e da Receita Federal já prendeu pelo menos 30 pessoas acusadas de contratar funcionários fantasmas e de fraudar a restituição do Imposto de Renda de servidores da assembléia.

The president of the assembly, Antonio Albuquerque (DEM [ex-PFL]) is one of those accused of heading a scheme that allegedly diverted R$200 million from the public coffers in five years. To this point, a joint action by the federal police and the federal tax authority have arrested at least 30 persons accused of hiring ghost employees and fraud in income tax withholding for assembly employees.

Headline from G1/Globo within the last hour:

Feds arrest at least 7 in Alagoas legislature case


Technically, “at least 7” might be “as many as 30.” I guess.

The Agência Estado reported that exactly 10 had been arrested as of 9:30 am today.

Go figure.

The usual rumor mill in action.

Senator Johnny Islen (The Manchurian Candidate): “There are exactly 57 card-carrying Communists in the Department of Defense!”

Resultado de mais de três anos de investigação, a operação Taturana cumpre 85 mandados de busca e apreensão e 40 mandados de prisão. O nome da operação, Taturana, é uma referência a uma lagarta que come folhas, uma alusão aos desvios de recursos da folha de pagamento do estado. A forma de atuação da quadrilha lembra o escândalo dos Gafanhotos, esquema do governo de Roraima com parlamentares que criava funcionários fantasmas e laranjas para receber seus salários.

Gists the press release.

Reports that 85 search warrants and 40 arrest warrants were being served.

The official press release had stated:

370 feds are serving 79 search and arrest warrants authorized by a federal judge from the Fifth Region.

Did they correct the number at the 10am press conference?

G1/Globo’s report repeats the official number: 79 in all.

Agência O Globo also adds an historical note:

The activities of the group recall the scandal of the Locusts, a scheme in the government of Roraima in which lawmakers created ghost employees and fronts in order to misappropriate their salaries.

What ever happened to that case?

Were any Locusts tried and convicted?
Less directly, it also resembles the Budget Dwarves affair, in which money allegedly went to philanthropic institutions, likewise controlled by relatives or fronts.

Ibsen Pinheiro was accused of Dwarf involvement by Veja magazine, and removed from office, but  Veja magazine now admits having reported nonexistent facts in his case. See

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