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Brazil's Most Wanted Arrested at Auto Show

October 28, 1994|RON HARRIS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

RIO DE JANEIRO — Following a five-month chase, Brazil's most-wanted fugitive was returned to prison here Thursday after his love of flashy imported cars led to his arrest at an annual auto show.

Castor de Andrade, head of an organized crime syndicate that runs the country's $2-billion-a-year illegal lottery, was arrested in Sao Paulo as he toured the nation's largest auto show with his niece and nephew. He had been recognized by a Rio de Janeiro couple at the event who told police.

The aging crime boss, his gray hair dyed black, sported a mustache and a fake beard as he was taken into custody Wednesday without incident in the middle of the showroom. Police had shadowed him after being tipped off by the couple.

"I am who you think I am," he told the officers when they asked him for identification.

Andrade, whose organization until last year operated openly on the streets of Rio de Janeiro with virtual impunity for decades, is the last of its top bosses to avoid capture. Thirteen other "godfathers" have been convicted and sentenced as a result of a crackdown on the organization that began early last year.

Andrade escaped from police in May when he fled his home after being notified that officers were coming to take him to prison to begin serving a six-year sentence for racketeering. Andrade had been free on bail.

Andrade's attorney, Helio Bialski, said Thursday that Andrade had been hiding out since May in Curitiba, a city of 2 million 225 miles southwest of Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city. He arrived in Sao Paulo by bus early Wednesday morning, his attorney said, and came to the auto show to buy a car before driving to Rio de Janeiro to turn himself in.

Sao Paulo Police Capt. Sassi Darci dismissed that claim. "He had no intention of giving himself up," Darci said.

Andrade's organization allegedly funds and controls the samba schools that run Rio de Janeiro's Carnaval and has given millions in bribes and payoffs to hundreds of police officers, judges and politicians.

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