PF makes mega operation against fuel mafia


Alessandro Soler, Ana Cláudia Costa and Cristiane de Cássia -
O Globo, 08/11/2004

RIO DE JANEIRO - Thirty-six people, including 21 federal highway police, were arrested in Rio in the operation Poeira no Asfalto, launched earlier this Monday morning to arrest 56 people involved in the fuel mafia in the state of Rio and Paraná. Federal Police chief Cláudio Nogueira, responsible for the operation, said that the gang was causing a loss of US $ 5 million a year to the country.

Among the accused there are state and environmental tax inspectors, as well as civil and military police and federal highway police, including former PRF superintendent in Rio, Francisco Carlos da Silva, who was arrested at home on Rua Professor Mota Maia, at Recreio dos Bandeirantes. Several documents were seized with him, a computer, a 12-gauge shotgun and three pistols. Francisco da Silva was responsible for the release of trucks on the highways without being inspected.

In Volta Redonda, in the south of the state of Rio, around R $ 400 in cash were seized at the home of a state finance inspector, an amount that, according to police, would be the result of a bribe received to release trucks with fuel on the Presidente Dutra Highway .

According to Cláudio Nogueira, businessmen sent alcohol trucks from Paulínia (SP) and Campos to Rio with false invoices and bills addressed to states with lower ICMS. Among the arrested heads of the scheme are Paulo Roberto Prette, Renan de Macedo Leite and Sidmar Ribeiro da Silva.

Most of the accused federal highway police officers live in a luxury condominium in Barra, Rio Mar II, on Avenida Abelardo Bueno. The operation also takes place in Campos and Volta Redonda. In addition to Rio police officers, agents from São Paulo, Paraná and Brasília participate in the action. The police carry out arrest warrants issued by the courts.