Brazil’s most wanted criminal finally behind bars

Antonio Francisco Bonfim Lopes

Antonio Francisco Bonfim Lopes

One of Brazil’s most-wanted criminals, who police say controls a gang of 200 armed drug traffickers in a Rio de Janeiro slum that sprawls above the city’s wealthiest neighborhood, has been arrested.

Police said they found Antonio Francisco Bonfim Lopes, known as Nem, hidden in the trunk of a car before dawn. One of Nem’s three escorts identified himself as the consul for the Democratic Republic of Congo and requested the car not be searched, claiming diplomatic immunity.

The police became suspicious. “The officer began doubting the story because of the weight of the car and the fact that the trunk was moving,” Col. Fabio Almeida told reporters at a news conference in Rio. “So they searched the car.”

There they found Nem and a large stash of dollars, euros and local currency. One of the men tried to bribe officers first with 20,000 reais ($11,000), then with the 1 million reais to avoid arrest, according to police, who haven’t confirmed whether the man with Nem actually worked for the consulate of Congo.

Three helicopters hovered above an armed caravan that took Nem to the high-security Bangu prison in the city’s outskirts after he was interrogated by police.

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