Explaining Brazil #92: PCC, Brazil’s uber-powerful criminal brotherhood

Founded by eight inmates of a São Paulo prison, the PCC has become Brazil's (and South America's) biggest drugs gang. We explain how

Members of Brazil’s PCC (the First Command of the Capital) staged a massive prison break from a Paraguayan penitentiary. This latest episode underscores how powerful the gang has become. But to truly understand what the gang is—and how it works—we have to look back to 1992, when Brazil witnessed the bloodiest episode in the history of its prison system.

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On this episode:

  • Gabriel Feltran is a sociologist. He wrote the book Irmãos: uma história do PCC(or ‘Brothers: a history of the PCC’), in which he gives what was called the “most original approach to understanding why [the gang] grew to become so powerful.”  
  • Matthew Richmond is a visiting fellow at the Latin America and Caribbean Center of the London School of Economics. He holds a Ph.D. in Human Geography from King’s College and has studied the PCC.

Background reading:

Explaining Brazil is made by:

  • Gustavo Ribeiro, editor in chief of The Brazilian Report. He has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets, including Veja, Época, Folha de S.Paulo, Médiapart, and Radio France Internationale.
  • Euan Marshall, editing. is a journalist and translator who has lived in São Paulo, Brazil since 2011. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics and the connection between the two, his work has been published in The Telegraph, Al Jazeera, The Independent, among others.

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