In 2016 several Brazilian newspapers reported on two encrypted letters sent by imprisoned members of the criminal organization PCC. Can my readers help to decipher the letter excerpts that are publicly available?

As mentioned a few times before, one of the main sources I use for this blog is Google. When searching for terms like “encrypted postcard” or “journal in code”, I often find interesting cryptograms or crypto stories. My Google searches have proven especially fruitful, when I include search terms in foreign languages, like French or Russian.

Yesterday, I tried my luck with Spanish expressions, like “carta cifrada” and “tarjeta cifrada”. When I entered “carta codificada”, I received the most interesting hits. All of them refered to Portuguese web pages, not to Spanish ones, so in addition to finding new crypto stories, I learned that “carta codificada” is also a Portuguese expression.

Several of my “carta codificada” hits led to articles published by the Brazilian press in 2016. Check here or here to read some of these. As my knowledge of Portuguese is very limited, to say the least, I had to use Google Translate to understand the content of these publications.

According to these articles, Brazilian law enforcement agents in 2016 seized two encrypted letters. They were written by imprisoned members of the Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC), the largest Brazilian criminal organization. The letters contained instructions for their gang mates to kill agents of the security forces of the Brazilian state of São Paulo – military and civil police and prison guards.

Scans of the two encrypted letters (or at least excerpts thereof) are available on the internet. Here’s the first letter (sorry, I haven’t found a better scan):

Source: Brazilian Police

Here’s the second one, including a transcription:

Source: Brazilian Police

To my regret, the articles I found about this story don’t say anything about the encryption system used or about the plaintext. The alphabet used (consisting of letters and numbers) suggests that the cipher is more complex than a simple letter substitution. I don’t think, however, that the cipher is really complicated, as a prison inmate usually doesn’t have access to an encryption software or a cipher device.

Can a reader find out more?

Further reading: How steganography solved a murder case


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Kommentare (5)

  1. #1 Rossignol
    Paris, France
    28. Dezember 2018

    Solved on Reddit:

  2. #2 Thomas
    28. Dezember 2018

    Not both letters were discovered in 2016 and have been solved on Reddit: The first letter was written on May 27, 2016 and isn’t yet solved on Reddit. Only the second letter which was seized in Dec. 2018 (not 2016!) has been decrypted on Reddit.

  3. #3 M
    28. Dezember 2018

    That are 3 messages. The 3rd is NOT the transcription of the 2nd! The latter 2 are solved on the reddit post Rossignol mentioned.

  4. #4 Lycra
    29. Dezember 2018

    Da steht: “Wer das hier lesen kann ist ein Homo”

  5. #5 Joe
    29. Dezember 2018

    In portugiesisch?