A drug lord who had plastic surgery to change his appearance has been captured in Brazil after three decades on the run.
Luiz Carlos da Rocha, nicknamed White Head, is one of South America’s biggest cocaine kingpins having reportedly amassed a personal fortune of $100M.
He was arrested in the western state of Mato Grosso in a city called Sorriso.
Under operation spectrum, 150 agents carried out 24 raids and seized luxury cars worth $10M, planes, farms and other property.
Spectrum refers in Portuguese to the phantom-like nature of a fugitive “who lived discreetly and in the shadows… evading police attempts for almost 30 years”, said police.
They said da Rocha had changed his name to Vitor Luiz de Moraes.
Authorities said that after comparing old photos of da Rocha’s facial characteristics with an up-to-date ID image of de Moraes, they concluded they were the same person.
Da Rocha has convictions totaling more than 50 years in prison which were handed down by the federal court.
He allegedly headed up a network that includes producing cocaine in the jungles of Bolivia, Colombia and Peru and distributing it on the continent as well as the US and Europe.
Police said cocaine was flown in small planes from manufacturing sites via Venezuelan airspace to remote farms in western Brazil.
From there it was shipped in secret compartments in specially adapted lorries to Brazil’s big cities or to be moved abroad.
During the operation to find da Rocha, his alleged right-hand man was also arrested.