Power and powder

Arrest of a Brazilian celebrity has exposed a prostitution-drug trafficking network

Queen of lies: Flávia Tamayo, 25, was recently arrested after a two-year investigation | Courtesy: Instagram Queen of lies: Flávia Tamayo, 25, was recently arrested after a two-year investigation | Courtesy: Instagram

GREEN EYES. FLÁVIA has green eyes. Her hair dances between black and blonde. But with 110cm-hips, a 68cm-waist, and 90cm-chest, she was Brazilian hotness personified.

Playboy Portugal billed her a “true Brazilian beauty” when she graced their cover. She was a former Miss Bumbum Brazil (an annual beauty pageant to find the woman with the best buttocks in the country), a dancer, showgirl and erotic video starlet. But the face that sold countless magazines in Brazil and Portugal is now on a mugshot in the Brazilian state of Espírito Santo.

Flávia Tamayo, 25, who went by the stage name Pamela Pantera, was recently arrested from a luxury hotel in Vitoria after a two-year investigation. It is alleged that she was a “$200 call girl” (per session) who flew across Brazil servicing the rich and powerful, and that her services were often repaid, at least in part, with cocaine and hashish.

When the police approached her to bring her in, she lifted her dress, stood nude in the crowded lobby of the hotel on Camburi Beach, and shouted at them. The stunned male officers called for immediate backup from a female colleague. Tamayo was then taken into custody, handcuffed and driven to the police station.

When the police approached her to bring her in, she lifted her dress, stood nude in the crowded lobby of the hotel on Camburi Beach, and shouted at them.

Tamayo’s clients knew her as the “Powder Panther” or the “Queen of Powder”, said authorities, adding that she offered a combination of sex and drugs. She would deliver drugs along with love-for-pay or accept narcotics as part payment for sex. In the second scenario, sex was offered for half the price; she would keep the drugs for personal use or sell it. Allegedly, she ran a tele-drug service in Brazil’s capital, Brasília.

Tamayo was born in São Paulo and raised in Brasília, according to her profile bios. Her Facebook page says she attended the Adventist School of Tucurui in the northern state of Pará; a school “based on biblical principles and permanent values… committed not only to pedagogical quality... but to integral formation [of students]”. But, somehow, Tamayo’s religious formation translated into a life of luxury and glamour and, apparently, sophisticated cosmetic procedures.

After winning Miss Bumbum Brazil in 2018, she said that she had to prove that she had not undergone any surgical procedure to have perfect buttocks. “As they doubted me, I even did a live ultrasound on television to show that there is no procedure, but, honestly, I was not offended by this mistrust,” she said.

However, her assertion that she was all-natural turned out to be false. In May 2018, months before winning the title, she had been operated upon by Dr Denis César Barros Furtado, 45, aka Dr Bumbum. She paid the surgeon 40,000 reals ($7,600) for the bioplastic procedure. Furtado is currently a fugitive; he was charged with culpable homicide after a female banker from Rio de Janeiro died during a cosmetic surgery in 2019. Six other police investigations have indicted him for crimes such as illegal exercise of the profession, misleading advertising and for refusing to provide medical records to patients.

Tamayo’s current stature was largely built on the Miss Bumbum aura. Her Instagram page showcases her in seductive positions, prominently featuring what she considers her most valued asset. She has more than 1.2 lakh followers on social media and became an erotic film star in the Brasileirinhas series.

She has said that she represented the beauty of Brazilian women and that she had dreams of a future in politics, starting with running for the city council. She had also complained that the electronic ballot boxes used in Brazil were not reliable and that voting “should be on paper, the same as in the United States”, evidently unaware that the US employs electronic voting. Her comments on politics and her desire to run for office led to her being featured as the muse of the 2018 Brazilian presidential elections by both Playboy and SEXY magazines. For the SEXY centrefold, she posed on the Esplanade de Ministerios, the grand avenue of Brasilia’s Monumental Axis that is home to important government buildings, monuments and memorials.

Now, the police say the muse also offered a sexual menu to her sophisticated customers and that the highest prices were always accompanied by a hit of powder. According to the police, her wealthy clients came largely from the federal civil service—members of the executive, legislative and judiciary.

“The movement of men eager for easy pleasure has always made Flávia earn high, both with programmes and with the sale of powder,” wrote reporter Carlos Carone in Metrópoles, a Brasilia-focused news and discussion website. “The delivery of narcotics was done by taxi drivers, who left the papers in a flat, in the Northern Hotel Sector, where the call girl is accustomed to serving men who seek her for hours of sex in absolute secrecy.”

The arrest warrant for drug trafficking was issued about a month ago by the 1st Narcotics Court of Brasilia. But her whereabouts were not known until the Civil Police tracked her down to Espírito Santo and contacted the state police, which alerted the 1st Regional Police Station in Vitória.

Tamayo was in Espírito Santo for a photoshoot. According to a photographer, who requested anonymity, she had wanted to pose with snakes; he had arranged them from a biologist. Police allege she was also there to meet clients.

“She had a very busy schedule and she did not have a fixed place; she travelled throughout Brazil,” said police spokesman Ricardo Olivera of the 5th Police District, which was in charge of the investigation. The day before the operation, she flew 1,600km to see clients in Florianópolis in the southern state of Santa Catarina, he said. Information also put her in Sao Paulo in the preceding days.

“We already had information about the time when she would arrive at the hotel,” said the chief of the division that arrested her. “I personally positioned myself outside the hotel…. When we showed we were serious and that she really would have to go to the (police station), she realised that she really had no way out. Then, in that moment, in a psychological lapse, [she] lifted her dress—she was not wearing underwear—and started screaming and struggling in the hotel lobby.”

After she was arrested, the police found in her possession of a small amount of marijuana, which, according to the police, was for personal use, about 60 reals and a rolled-up dollar bill, which she reportedly told police was to inhale drugs. “She had a thresher, which is a piece of equipment used to make marijuana in a better condition for consumption, with a small amount inside it,” said a police statement.

Perhaps more importantly, Tamayo’s cell phone was also confiscated. It may contain leads that will further the investigations being carried out by the Civil Police. The phone is currently being analysed. Now, the investigation’s focus is on finding the origin of the drugs. “We are going to identify its suppliers,” said the police. “What was the origin and where did these drugs come from?”

After being booked, Tamayo was transferred to the Centro Prisional Feminino de Cariacica of the Espírito Santo penitentiary system, where she is one of 1,159 prisoners. She awaits transfer to Brasilia, but her attorneys are fighting extradition and requesting her release from preliminary detention.

In an interview in the Jornal de Brasília, two days after her arrest, Tamayo denied the accusations of the Civil Police and said that she works in adult entertainment and never got involved with crime. Last year, the model had said that she would feature on the cover of Playboy Italy this year. Noting that she often visited exotic locations like Ibiza, the authorities have revoked her passport. For now, Tamayo will have to stay in jail and in Brazil. Meanwhile, her lawyer said she wants to “change her life” and help other women.