The Rise of the PCC: How South America's Most Powerful Prison Gang is Spreading in Brazil and Beyond
66 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2020 Last revised: 26 Aug 2022
Date Written: December 2020
Over the past thirty years, the Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC) has emerged as one of the most powerful criminal organizations in South America. From its founding in São Paulo’s prison system, it has spread rapidly across southern Brazil, contested trafficking routes in Brazil’s northern and northeastern regions, and become a potent force in Paraguay. Drawing on a variety of case studies developed from research in Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina, the report describes the origins of the PCC, its unique model of organization, and its ability to regulate criminal markets in the areas it controls. The report analyzes the forces that have facilitated the PCC’s rise and expansion, as well as the constraints to its further spread, including increased law enforcement, the rise of rival organizations, and the organizational challenges of expansion. We conclude that although the PCC is facing unprecedented challenges, the organization is resilient to many law enforcement pressures, and the PCC “model” of criminal organization is increasingly being emulated by other criminal groups in the region.
Keywords: PCC, transnational organized crime, drug traffick, criminal organization
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