The Brazilian federal police carried out a sweeping operation on Thursday that targeted former President Jair Bolsonaro and many of his closest advisers and former ministers as part of an investigation into efforts to overturn Brazil’s 2022 election and other alleged crimes.
The federal police force said that it was carrying out 33 search warrants and four arrest warrants. The agency said it would order another 15 people to hand over their passports, not leave the country and not contact any other people under investigation.
Mr. Bolsonaro was a target of the operation and would hand in his passport within 24 hours, the former president’s spokesman said.
The raids also targeted Brazil’s former defense secretary, former intelligence chief, former justice minister and former head of the Navy, Mr. Bolsonaro’s running mate and the head of his political party.
The police said the raids were part of a wide-ranging investigation into suspicions of an attempted coup; attacks on Brazil’s election systems; attacks on Covid-19 vaccines; falsifying vaccination records; and stealing government funds and foreign gifts to the president.
For months ahead of Brazil’s 2022 election, Mr. Bolsonaro sowed doubts about the security of his nation’s election systems and warned that if he lost it would be the result of fraud.
When he, in fact, lost to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Mr. Bolsonaro declined to unequivocally concede and his supporters staged monthslong protests that culminated in a January 2023 riot at Brazil’s Congress, Supreme Court and presidential offices.
Mr. Bolsonaro has already been ruled ineligible to run for office until 2030 over his attempts to undermine Brazil’s voting systems. But Thursday’s operation suggests that the authorities believe the former president and his allies had carried out a more coordinated effort to hold onto power after his election loss.
Mr. Bolsonaro said on Thursday that he was the innocent victim of a politically motivated operation.
“I left the government more than a year ago and I continue to suffer relentless persecution,” the former president told Folha de São Paulo, a Brazilian newspaper. “Forget about me. There is already someone else running the country.”
This is a developing story.
Julia Vargas Jones contributed reporting from New York.