A Drug Lord Who ‘Died’ of COVID Last Year Was Just Arrested in Europe

Brazilian Sergio Roberto de Carvalho was arrested in Hungary where he had been living under a false identity after faking his own death.
Brazilian Sergio Roberto de Carvalho
Alleged Brazilian drug-trafficker Sergio Roberto de Carvalho following his arrest in Hungary, where he was living under a false identity. Photo courtesy of Hungarian government.

A major international drug trafficker, Brazilian Sergio Roberto de Carvalho, was arrested this week, two years after faking his own death from Covid. 

Carvalho, also known as “Major Carvalho,” was living under a fake identity in Europe—under the name of Paul Wouter, according to authorities. He was arrested in Hungary on June 21.

But this is his second European arrest. In August 2020, he was detained in Spain under his fake name after authorities seized a cocaine shipment entering Europe through there. After paying his bail, he faked his own death by asking his attorney to send a certificate to Spanish authorities informing them that he had died of Covid, according to news reports. 


The death certificate was dated August 29, 2020 and signed by a doctor, according to reporting from the time. He had apparently also been cremated. 

Carvalho then switched to a second, different identity on a fake Mexican passport under the name of Guillermo Flores Díaz, and has been living in Hungary for the last two years. 

When he was arrested in 2020 under the name of Wouter, Spanish authorities shared his fingerprints on an international database and Brazilian authorities were alerted of the match with Carvalho’s. Then, in November 2020, Carvalho was traced to Lisbon after authorities found more than $14 million in cash inside a van abandoned in a parking lot, allegedly proceeds from Carvalho’s drug trafficking activities. 

This week, a joint operation between Hungarian and Portuguese authorities found Carvalho living in a country mansion, under the other fake identity of Flores Díaz. 

Carvalho is accused of moving around 45 tons of drugs from Brazil to the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Portugal from 2017 to 2021, according to Brazilian news reports

“Sergio Roberto de Carvalho… is considered one of the largest international traffickers alive,” Brazilian Federal Police said in a press release. 

In February this year, authorities arrested some 30 people in Brazil and Spain during an international police operation that dismantled a drug-trafficking and money-laundering network allegedly tied to Carvalho, according to an Insight Crime report


“Carvalho may have been the mastermind behind a sprawling, intercontinental drug trafficking network which connected Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Spain and Dubai,” wrote the think tank. 

The investigation indicated that the organization’s command and control centers were in Dubai. Authorities also discovered production infrastructure in Bolivia, with logistics and supply chains in Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, Europol said.

Carvalho allegedly bought the European private jet company Airjetsul in Portugal to use the company's jets to transport drugs to Europe, Africa and Asia, according to the Portuguese authorities. Carvalho also used the company to launder the drug profits of his organization, they claim. 

Carvalho was a Major in the Brazilian military in Brazil until 1997, when he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years for trafficking cocaine and was freed in 2010, according to Brazilian news reports

Authorities have not shared any other details on his arrest and whether he will be extradited to face charges in Brazil where he has been wanted since 2017.