Brazil cops hunt leader of criminal organizations after release rescinded

Members of National Force patrol a street during a military police strike in Fortaleza, Brazil

Police in Sao Paulo mounted a hunt Sunday for the purported leader of one of Brazil’s biggest criminal organizations who went on the run after being freed from prison the previous day on a judge’s order that was revoked a few hours later.

André Oliveira Macedo, the alleged chief of the PCC crime gang, was being held following his arrest in September 2019 on charges of organizing large shipments of cocaine to Europe.

Marco Aurélio Mello, one of 11 justices on Brazil’s Supreme Court, granted a habeas corpus request Saturday that allowed Macedo to leave a Sao Paulo prison on the ground his detention awaiting trial had exceeded the time allowed by law. Hours later, the president of the high court, Luiz Fux, suspended the decision and ordered the immediate return of Macedo to prison.

Authorities provided no details on the search for Macedo.

The PCC is one of the most powerful criminal organizations in Brazil, with international influence.

Sao Paulo state Gov. Joao Doria criticized the order releasing Macedo, calling it “an unacceptable condescension to criminals.”

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