Brazil’s civil police arrested five suspects in a criminal operation stealing millions of liters of gas from Petrobras. The police have conducted their investigation into the cartel’s operation across Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Minas Gerais. Authorities estimate the cartel siphoned off over 14 million liters of gas per year. Furthermore, they believe the cartel has been active since June 2015.
The cartel siphoned off fuel and petroleum from the Transpetro pipelines, in the Baixada Fluminense region of Rio. From there, they re-sold the materials on the black market. The criminal operation used the trepanning technique, which consists of perforating the tube and installing a hidden branch into a separate storage unit. After extracting diesel, gas, and even raw petrol, the materials went to clandestine refineries in São Paulo and Minas Gerais.
In an attempt to squash the criminal operation, a judge expedited 11 prison mandates in these three states. The judge also issued 26 search and arrest warrants.
Rio police arrested former military police officer Carlos Alberto Ferreira and Jane Perreira. The pair ran the illicit operation in Rio and knew the origins of the illegal gas.
However, authorities continue to search for the top boss of the operation, Denilson Silva Peçanha, otherwise known as “Maninho”. In addition to running the operation of siphoning off gas, he was responsible for transporting the stolen materials to other states. “Maninho” also laundered the money made from the operation with false invoices. The cartel leader also has a warrant out for his arrest, following accusations of murder and torture.
Other suspects include truck drivers and motorcyclists who helped transport the stolen liters of gas.