Maputo — Agents of the Mozambican Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC) on Monday detained a notorious Brazilian drugs baron, Gilberto Aparicio dos Santos (better known as Fuminho) in a Maputo hotel.
Fuminho has been wanted by the Brazilian police and by Interpol since 1999 (after his escape from a Brazilian prison on 12 January that year). According to a SERNIC source, cited in Tuesday's issue of the independent newsheet "Carta de Mocambique", Fuminho arrived in Maputo in March this year from Bolivia.
When SERNIC detained him, they found he was sharing a hotel room with another Brazilian and with a Nigerian citizen. The newsheet's sources said he was injured in one leg, and sought treatment in a Maputo clinic. When he returned to the hotel, the police were waiting for him. He put up no resistance.
Claims in the Brazilian press that the arrest was carried out by agents of the Brazilian Federal Police are untrue, "Carta de Mocambique" says.
One of the newsheet's sources claimed that Fuminho controlled the Mozambican illegal drugs market and supplied narcotics to South Africa too. Over the past decade he had regularly visited Mozambique and South Africa. His business and personal partner, Maria Gonzaga, recently narrowly escaped detention by Interpol in Cape Town.
The Covid-19 pandemic may have been Fuminho's undoing. Because of the total lockdown decreed by the South African government in late March, Fuminho found himself trapped in Mozambique, unable to return to South Africa. His habitual flitting between the two countries was interrupted, and he opted to stay in Mozambique.
The hotel room was a temporary solution. According to "Carta de Mocambique", Fuminho's local partners, including a Nigerian Import/Export company, the name of which the paper does not reveal, had promised to shelter him in a less visible place.
A police source told the paper that the Nigerian company was responsible for distributing Fuminho's drugs from Mozambique to other southern African countries. Some of the drugs Fuminho received from Brazil were carried by couriers, usually women, to Maputo International Airport.
Several of these "mules" have been caught over the years, carrying cocaine in their luggage, and in their stomachs, and some are serving prison sentences in Maputo. But the traffickers whom the women were supposed to meet at the airport have never been caught.
The Brazilian authorities want Fuminho extradited to Brazil as quickly as possible, but "Carta de Mocambique" argues that he should first be interrogated in Mozambique, in the hope that he will reveal the whole network of accomplices which has supported him in southern Africa.
The paper's editor, Marcelo Mosse, in a signed editorial, warns that immediate extradition of Fuminho, without an interrogation by the Mozambican authorities, "could only raise one suspicion: that sectors of the local political and economic classes are afraid that they would be related to one of today's largest drug traffickers, and that their names and dirty businesses would be revealed".
The Mozambican police, Mosse adds, have evidence of Fuminho's connections with the traffic that "in recent years has infested Mozambique with heroin and cocaine from Brazil. This alone is enough to keep him incarcerated in Maputo for several weeks".
Mozambicans need the information in Fuminho's head. Mosse adds: "We want to know the names of those who nourished themselves on this jungle of illicit enrichment, pretending to be top rate entrepreneurs, when they are nothing but traffickers whose illicit assets should be confiscated immediately".