André de Oliveira Macedo took the front door as he left the maximum security prison in Presidente Venceslau, Brazil, a week ago. Shortly before, a Supreme Court judge had given him permission. When the president of the court reversed his colleague’s decision a few hours later, it was already too late. In the city of Maringá in southwestern Brazil, after his release, Macedo is said to have boarded a plane with which he took off abroad, presumably to Paraguay or Bolivia. Even Colombia is not excluded as a hiding place. His lawyer says he has no knowledge of his client’s whereabouts.
The release of Macedo sparked indignation in Brazil. Because it is not just about any prisoner whose innocence has now been confirmed, but about Brazil’s largest drug trafficker, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison in the second instance. The gangster known as “André do Rap” is one of the heads of the “Primeiro Comando da Capital” (PCC), Brazil’s largest criminal organization, and is supposed to control large parts of the cocaine trade between Brazil and Europe, according to the Brazilian investigative authorities.
Controls large parts of the cocaine trade
In addition, Macedo is said to have established contacts with criminal organizations in Europe. He is considered to be the central liaison between the PCC and the Italian ‘ndrangheta. The PCC is active in several countries in the region and controls large parts of the cocaine trade from Colombia, Bolivia and Paraguay to Brazil, which is itself one of the most important markets for cocaine and marijuana. Some of the goods are shipped to Europe.
Macedo, who owes his nickname to his talent as a gangsta rapper, comes from the port city of Santos, which is considered the hub of cocaine smuggling into Europe. Thanks to his entrepreneurial spirit, he quickly worked his way up to the PCC, making him the hunted. In 2013 and 2014 he was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in two cases for international drug trafficking, after which he fled to the Netherlands, where he lived for several years under an assumed name. During this time Macedo deepened the relationship between the PCC and the ‘ndrangheta. Back in Brazil, Macedo received representatives of the Italian mafia several times.
Macedo was on the run for six years
With the arrest and death of various leaders of the PCC, “André do Rap” rose to the top management of the organization. After his release and escape, he is considered the most important leader of the PCC at large and one of the most wanted criminals on the list of the Brazilian Federal Police and Interpol.
Macedo was on the run for six years before hooking up investigators last year. In September 2019, the drug dealer was arrested in a luxury villa on the Brazilian coast. Police seized several luxury cars, two helicopters, a yacht and cash worth more than five million dollars from the property. Neither weapons nor drugs were found on Macedo, who allowed himself to be arrested without resistance. However, his earlier trial was still ongoing, which is why Macedo has only been in preventive detention since then. And this has to be reconfirmed every 90 days. Since the judiciary had failed to do so in the case of Macedo, an application for his release landed on the table of the Chief Justice, who, according to his own statements, treated him routinely and correctly.
Reactions to the release range from anger to corruption allegations against the judge. It took years to catch the criminal, said São Paulo’s governor João Doria, for example. The release is a slap in the face of every police officer and the population. In the meantime, the plenary session of the Supreme Court has issued a new arrest warrant for Macedo. But the drug lord and gangsta rapper, who has a wide network of contacts throughout Latin America and has the necessary cash, has long been in a safe hiding place. He may have already written down a few verses about his escape through the front door.