HomeNewsBrief‘Brazil Militias Developing Ties with Drug Gangs’
BRIEF

'Brazil Militias Developing Ties with Drug Gangs'

BRAZIL / 17 SEP 2014 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

According to authorities in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the city's illicit miltias have become cozier with the local drug gangs they were originally set up to combat, an alarming development for those looking to stem the miltias' expansion. 

As O Globo reported, Rio's organized crime investigative bureau has said that their investigations showed business ties had developed between the city's militias and drug gangs.

The bureau has documented several cases involving militias that have agreed to allow drug traffickers to operate in militia territory, in exchange for a fee. Militias have also recruited gang members to work with them, according to the investigative bureau. 

Authorities observed interactions between militias and drug gangs as early as 2010, just prior to the large-scale military occupation of Complexo do Alemao -- one of the first neighborhoods that the government attempted to secure as part of a wider crackdown on crime. Around this time, police recorded phone conversations of militia members discussing weapon sales with gangs in Alemao.  

Rio's miltias principally consist of active-duty and former police, soldiers, and prison guards. Active for three decades, they were originally formed in order to push drug traffickers out of certain neighborhoods. However, now the militias carry out a range of criminal activities, including charging locals "security" fees and carrying out extrajudicial killings.  

InSight Crime Analysis

As pointed in out in the O Globo article, if Rio's miltias are building a relationship with their former drug gang rivals, this could indicate they are under significant financial pressure. If the drug gangs are willing to pay the necessary fees to operate in the militias' territories, this could represent major profits for the militias, and could be too good for them to pass up. 

SEE ALSO:Coverage of Brazil Militias

The question now is whether this will push the militias closer towards getting directly involved in the drug trade. As one judge told O Globo, the potential profits from marijuana and cocaine represent far more than what the militias get from their neighborhood extortion schemes. 

The miltias would certainly not be the first paramilitary group to turn away from their original commitment of combatting a criminal group or other illegal armed actors. Colombia's paramilitary organizations originally arose as rural self-defense units against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas, but ended up deeply involved in the drug trade. There's also been accusations that some members of Mexico's vigilantes -- originally formed to combat organized crime -- have been compromised

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

AMIGOS DOS AMIGOS / 5 DEC 2016

Police in Brazil intercepted gang communications suggesting the First Capital Command is expanding in the state of Rio de Janeiro,…

BRAZIL / 2 SEP 2011

A leader of the Justice League, one of Rio de Janeiro's most powerful militia groups, escaped from prison after the…

BRAZIL / 19 OCT 2011

A conflict in Brazil's northeast, where security forces launched an operation to quell a violent feud between criminal dynasties, is…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Combating Environmental Crime in Colombia

15 JUN 2021

InSight Crime presented findings from an investigation into the main criminal activities fueling environmental destruction in Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Collaborating on Citizen Security Initiatives

8 JUN 2021

Co-director Steven Dudley worked with Chemonics, a DC-based development firm, to analyze the organization’s citizen security programs in Mexico.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Deepens Its Connections with Universities

31 MAY 2021

A partnership with the University for Peace will complement InSight Crime’s research methodology and expertise on Costa Rica.

THE ORGANIZATION

With Support from USAID, InSight Crime Will Investigate Organized Crime in Haiti

31 MAY 2021

The project will seek to map out Haiti's principal criminal economies, profile the specific groups and actors, and detail their links to elements of the state.

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.