HomeNewsBriefDrug Dealers in Brazil Accused of Bankrolling Soccer Games
BRIEF

Drug Dealers in Brazil Accused of Bankrolling Soccer Games

BRAZIL / 27 OCT 2020 BY JUAN DIEGO POSADA EN

To sell and promote their product, drug dealers in Rio de Janeiro have organized cash-prize soccer matches -- in an example of how even low-level criminals use Brazil's soccer-mad culture to net illicit cash. 

Police were tipped that the suspected drug-funded matches -- held in Rio's São Gonçalo district -- are followed by parties, where dealers peddle their wares, Globo's G1 reported.

One such match -- dubbed the “Clássico dos Milhões” (Derby of Millions), the name locals use for matchups between Rio de Janeiro rivals Flamengo and Vasco da Gama -- netted the winning team 50,000 reais (about $8,900). The match, which occurred on October 4, used a mix of amateur and former professional players. Police are investigating the source of the prize money and have spoken to several players.

SEE ALSO: Brazil News and Profile

After a similar match several years ago, heavily armed men fired shots in the air to celebrate a win. That match was also held in the São Gonçalo municipality, according to a Journal de Record report. Police said that the games take place in areas that are known drug hotspots. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Soccer and street-level drug sales have gone hand-in-hand in other countries, and the game has long been linked to high-level corruption in Brazil.

In Argentina, fan-run soccer gangs, known as "barras bravas," have repeatedly been caught selling drugs and involved in other rackets, including getting a cut of parking sales near stadiums.

In Brazil, soccer has been used as a front for all kinds of criminal activity. André de Oliveira Macedo -- an alleged leader of one of Brazil's largest criminal organizations, the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital - PCC)-- was arrested in September 2019 on charges of organizing large shipments of cocaine to Europe. Better known as "André do Rap," he claimed his riches -- which included a $1.5 million yacht and a luxury home in Rio -- came from serving as an agent to soccer stars and artists.

The sport has also facilitated massive graft schemes.

In 2017, Rio de Janeiro's former state governor Sergio Cabral was sentenced to 14 years in prison for accepting bribes for awarding construction contracts for the Maracaná soccer stadium.

SEE ALSO: Governor In, Governor Out – All Normal in Rio de Janeiro

Corruption has also reached the sport's highest levels, including premier events. During the 2014 World Cup, Brazilian police investigated several officials and former players for their alleged role in a corruption scheme related to game ticket resales.

In a country where soccer borders on a religion, it is no wonder that everyone from corrupt executives to low-level drug dealers would use the sport to line their pockets.

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

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border…

ARGENTINA / 5 JUL 2022

Why did drug trafficking enjoy such a boom during the COVID-19 pandemic…

BRAZIL / 17 DEC 2020

On June 10, 2016, Jorge Rafaat was driving his armored Hummer when he pulled up to a stop light in…

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…