Police have arrested a longstanding friend of Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, in connection with a corruption inquiry involving Bolsonaro’s son.
Reports in the Brazilian media said civil police investigators arrested Fabrício Queiroz, a former police officer who has known Bolsonaro since the 1980s, on Thursday morning in Atibaia, a town 40 miles north of the city of São Paulo.
The property where Queiroz was arrested is reportedly owned by Frederick Wassef, a lawyer who represents Bolsonaro and his son Flávio. Queiroz previously worked for Flávio Bolsonaro, who is now a senator.
A police chief, Osvaldo Nico Gonçalves, told GloboNews that Queiroz had been asleep when arresting officers arrived. “He handed himself over without any problems,” Gonçalves said. “The only thing he said was that his health was in a bad way.”
In an indication of the potential significance of the arrest, the channel broadcast live helicopter images of Queiroz being taken into custody in a convoy of black police vehicles.
Investigators also visited an address in northern Rio de Janeiro on Thursday morning to execute a search warrant relating to the same investigation.
The broadcaster GloboNews said officers spent around an hour inside the uninhabited building, during which time the sound of hammers apparently being used to break walls could be heard, before the officers left with two bags of evidence.
There was no immediate suggestion of wrongdoing on the part of the president.
Thursday’s operations are part of a long-running inquiry into suspicions that Flávio Bolsonaro ran a corruption racket during his 15 years as a state legislator in Rio. Queiroz is suspected to have played a key role in that alleged scheme.
Reports in the Brazilian press have also linked Flávio Bolsonaro to members of a notorious death squad that one local broadsheet has called Rio’s “most lethal and secretive phalanx of hired guns”.
The Bolsonaro family rejects the accusations.