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Brazilian drug lord arrested after wife reveals location on Instagram

Andrezza de Lima Joel often showed off her vacations with her husband Ronald Roland on Instagram (Photo: TV Globo)

A Brazilian drug lord has been arrested after a two-year manhunt, thanks in large part to his Instagram-loving wife – for the second time.

Ronald Roland, 50, was detained Tuesday at his apartment in the coastal town of Guarujá on charges of running a vast money-laundering scheme to supply drug cartels in Mexico.

Authorities say Rolan has contacts with Mexican drug cartels.

The fugitive, his second wife Andrezza de Lima Joel, and their daughters were sleeping when the police burst through the door.

Police were able to track down Ronald because de Lima had been posting photos of the couple on Instagram, according to Brazilian broadcaster TV Globo’s current affairs program Fantástico.

She boasted about her husband’s luxurious trips to Paris, Dubai, the Maldives and Colombia, unwittingly helping police track his whereabouts.

Roland was arrested in 2019 after his first wife tagged his location on social media (photo: Federal Police)

This is not the first time Roland has been arrested due to his wife’s social media activity.

Roland was arrested in July 2019 while on Interpol’s watchlist; his ex-wife flagged on social media where the couple was staying: the East Zone of São Paulo.

He was released the following year.

Federal police said Tuesday that 280 officers arrested eight people — including Roland — in a seven-state raid that seized 34 luxury cars, two private jets, luxury watches, weapons and wads of cash.

The operation exposed a “sophisticated” and “brutal” drug trafficking ring that had spent years “concealing and disguising assets derived from numerous crimes.”

Nine preventive arrest warrants and 80 search and seizure orders were executed in the states of Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Paraná, Santa Catarina, Bahia and Goiás.

According to the federal police, over five years Roland amassed assets worth 5,000,000,000 reais, which is approximately 860,200,000 pounds.

The federal police arrested the baron as part of a large-scale operation (photo: Federal Police)

The money passed through a maze of more than 100 companies and shell companies – including Ronald’s wife’s bikini shop in Guarujá.

In just one day, de Lima deposited £28,000 into an ATM in Foz do Iguaçu, a city in Paraná state.

Authorities said she used the money to buy a plane for £430,000.

“There are bikini ads, but whether those bikinis can buy planes and luxury vehicles worth millions of dollars is a completely different story,” Ricardo Ruiz, a federal police officer based in Uberlândia, Minas Gerais, told Fantastico.

Ruiz claimed that Roland bought homes on behalf of companies whose partners were not wealthy enough to buy real estate, vehicles and airplanes.

“We found partners of companies, for example, who work in a restaurant but are partners in several companies that have traded tens of millions of reais,” Ruiz said.

Police confiscated 34 luxury cars (photo: Federal Police)
Roland was accused of hoarding billions of recipes (photo: Policia Federal)

These fake companies operated in sectors ranging from civil engineering and aviation to cryptocurrency and trading, while 200 people kept the whole operation afloat.

Intelligence officers say those involved hid the money in garbage bags and then deposited it into ATMs.

At one point, money launderers deposited about £8,500 in 20 envelopes into an ATM in the East Zone.

Roland has long been as discreet as possible. But when he moved into a luxury apartment in Uberlândia in 2019, it was hard to remain unnoticed.

“One guy came home with a R$500,000 vehicle. A week later with a R$1 million vehicle. Another week with an R$800,000 vehicle,” Ruiz said.

“It’s caught the attention of the neighborhood. Who is this person who moved here?”

Federal police began tracking Roland in 2012, when he was working as an airline pilot, investigating his ties to “violent” drug traffickers who trafficked narcotics from Central and South America to Mexico.

In the 2000s, São Paulo police investigated him for tax evasion, corruption and criminal association, among other things.

Lawyers for Rolando and de Lima were unable to comment on the matter when contacted by Fantastico.

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