London: The boss of an international cocaine empire has finally been captured after spending 30 years using plastic surgery to avoid being apprehended by Brazilian police.
Luiz Carlos da Rocha, who earned the nickname “White Head” is believed to be the chief of a huge drug empire in South America.
He has a reported personal fortune of $US100 million ($130 million) from dealing the drug that has ravaged parts of the continent. Brazilian police say Rocha was arrested over the weekend in the city of Sorriso in Mato Grosso state.
Rocha had changed his name to Vitor Luiz de Moraes and had plastic surgery to alter his facial features, but police compared old photographs with his current appearance and concluded they had apprehended the right person.
The operation to catch him – Operation Spectrum – saw 150 agents carry out two dozen raids, during which they seized $US10 million ($13 million) worth of luxury cars, planes and property including farms.
Police say his organisation produced cocaine in Peru, Colombia and Bolivia, and exported it to Europe and the United States via Brazil and Paraguay.
They estimate Rocha brought in five tonnes of cocaine per month to Brazil alone.
Police also accuse Rocha of being one of the main suppliers to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro’s violent drug traffickers. Described by police as “a criminal who lived discreetly and in the shadows”, Rocha has a reputation for violence, with his gang using weapons and armoured cars.
Rocha faces more than 50 years in prison for international drug trafficking and money laundering convictions.