Crime ring run by jailed drug lord smashed -Brazil

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov 22 (Reuters) Police today arrested the newlywed wife of Brazil's most notorious drug baron and 10 others on suspicion of being members of a crime ring he ran from his cell in a new maximum-security federal prison.

Police said Luiz Fernando da Costa, also known as Fernandinho Beira-Mar or Freddy Seashore, continued to deal in crossborder drug trafficking, assassinations, arms smuggling, and money laundering from behind bars.

''He was making contact with his gang via relatives, friends and lawyers,'' said Valdinho Caetano, federal police chief in Beira-Mar's native Rio de Janeiro.

Police arrested the suspects in four Brazilian states, including Rio and the central-western Mato Grosso do Sul, where Beira-Mar is serving his sentence.

Beira-Mar got married eight weeks ago in the Campo Grande federal prison. His wife, Jaqueline, a lawyer whom he met many years ago, was arrested in Rio with some 0,000 at her home, a police source said.

Authorities suspect she is the ring's second-in-command after Beira-Mar. He was arrested in Colombia in 2001 and convicted of drug trafficking and other offenses.

Campo Grande is Beira-Mar's ninth place of confinement since 2003, when he directed street violence from a state prison cell in Rio de Janeiro using a mobile phone. Authorities had to deploy troops to safeguard the city then.

Two years ago, police discovered a plot to use a missile to break Beira-Mar out of a Sao Paulo state prison.

New federal penitentiaries like Campo Grande, which opened just months ago, represent the growing role of the federal government in fighting crime, a task previously left to states.

Authorities had been hoping modern prisons would put an end to corruption and poor security that plague many regular state prisons.


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