The Key Holders

December 2, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

CNA photo



Ricardo Swire

Brazilian law enforcement’s new push against the “First Capital Command” or Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC), known in gangland as “R,” netted some unusual suspects.

PCC was formed in 1993 by a group of roughneck Taubate Penitentiary inmates in Sao Paulo. Originally the PCC lobbied Brazilian authorities for improved prison conditions. Over the years its power inside State prisons has instead been used to coordinate drug dealing and extortion operations outside.

Data informed that generated revenue is used to, among other things, send former prisoners to law school. On November 22 2016 Sao Paulo Police detained thirty three suspects. Fifty-five arrested gang members included forty attorneys, accused of laundering money for the PCC. Police found a “Death List” with names of prison guards and members of their families. The suspect attorneys acted as intermediaries between PCC’s imprisoned leaders and members outside.

A few days ago Brazilian Federal Police haphazardly solved one gangland murder. Officers routinely stopped a teenager who was speeding. They found that the sixteen year old male possessed no drivers’ license. He also drove a car that did not belong to him. These factors prompted arrest. Records further cataloged the Brazilian teenager was transported to a nearby police station and interviewed. During the search process his mobile phone was checked and the murder video found. The electronic recording depicts an unemotional execution of an eighteen year old male, killed as a suspected police informant.

Footage shows the teenager forced inside his car’s back seat by two of three abductors. He is driven to a secluded area outside Goiania town in central Brazil and told to get out. One of the three men walk up to the victim, who is lying on the ground holding his head. The man stamps on him continually. Then the trio load a 38 revolver. Another man takes the gun and shoots the teenager in the head at close range. One bullet misses and impacts earth beside him. The trio then casually return to the car in candid conversation about what transpired.

A previous police “Operation Saturation” conducted in Sao Paulo arrested dozens of alleged gang leaders. Ministry of Justice, Director General appointed, Prison Chiefs of overcrowded prisons are intimidated by their most dangerous inmates. Known as “Chaveiros” or “Key Holders” these prisoners control Cell Blocks and “maintain order.” Other inmates are forced to pay a weekly tax of between 5 Reals and 15 Reals. Brazil’s Internal Security intelligence reports note that Key Holders often order prison militias to hurt or murder prisoners who do not pay imposed taxes.

Chaveiros have private cells and hire inmates, as “Chegados” or personal servants, to wash clothes. Doubling as drug lords Key Holders make additional money retailing crack cocaine. They are supplied by rascal prison guards and rogue Federal police officers. An inmate’s family is extorted to settle incurred drug debt. Key Holders rent “Barracos” or cell bunks to arriving prisoners for between 419 Reals and 1,385Reals.

Operation Saturation confiscated guns, drugs and a list with names and addresses of forty Military Police personnel. Brazilian Federal Police 2015 data recorded the names of fourteen gang leaders who are active behind bars. Brazil’s 377,000 maximum jail capacity, accommodates over 607,000 prisoners.

Pernambuco’s prison was built to detain 10,500 inmates. National Prison Department attendance records registered almost 32,000, a ratio of one prison guard to monitor thirty-one prisoners. The South American country houses the world’s third largest jail population. Only America’s more than 2.2 million inmates and China’s 1.6 million contain more prisoners.









Ricardo Swire - Tuck Magazine

Ricardo Swire

Ricardo Swire is the Principal Consultant at R-L-H Security Consultants & Business Support Services and writes on a number of important issues.


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