Transnational gangs in South America: The expansion of the Primeiro Comando da Capital to Paraguay



Gangs; Organized Crime; Peace Studies; Primeiro Comando da Capital; Brazil; Paraguay


This article analyzes the Primeiro Comando da Capital (First Command of the Capital, or PCC) as a transnational gang in expansion to South America. In particular, it shows how the structure of the gang enables its strong cross-border performance, specifically in Paraguay since the 2010s. The article uses triangulated data from official documents obtained from Brazilian judicial agencies, expert analysis and interviews. Since its beginning in 1993, and mainly after its transformations during the 2000s, the PCC has demonstrated a unique organization that affects state and social structures in the field of public security. The expansion of the group is a demonstration of existing flaws in the Brazilian prison system, such as overcrowding, poor health conditions, and human rights violations, as well as the absence of the state in urban and rural areas with limited material resources. Consequently, the PCC has overcome prison walls to reach borders and other countries, and has become a highly professionalized and complex organization managing drug trafficking in South America.