HomeNewsBriefMilitia Tentacles Extend to Rural Areas of Brazil
BRIEF

Militia Tentacles Extend to Rural Areas of Brazil

BRAZIL / 16 AUG 2019 BY JUAN CAMILO JARAMILLO EN

New details about militias in Brazil’s rural areas reveal how these criminal groups have spread rapidly in strategic regions around the country. 

Brazil's militias are present in at least a dozen of its 26 states, according to an August 5 report by O Globo.

Their territorial expansion is accompanied by illegal deforestation and land hoarding practices that dovetail with the interests of local politicians and businessmen, according to the report.

SEE ALSO: Brazil News and Profile

Brazil's Federal Police (Polícia Federal - PF) and Federal Public Prosecutor’s Amazon Task Force (Força-Tarefa Amazônia, do Ministério Público Federal - MPF) denounced the militias' incursions in May 2019 during an investigation called Operación Ojoura.

The investigation revealed the participation of businessmen and farmers in forming the rural militias in the region of Boca do Acre and Lábrea, located in Northern Brazil's Amazonas state. 

The militias were hired to forcefully displace people from territories and occupy the lands using repressive methods, such as threatening them with firearms, according to O Globo.

InSight Crime Analysis

The presence of militias in close to half of Brazil’s states has become one of the country’s most challenging security issues, further complicated by the fact that they appear to be sanctioned from on high.

These types of criminal structures are mostly made up of active and retired police officers who are hired by businessmen and landowners to forcefully drive out rural dwellers and appropriate lands.

SEE ALSO: Spate of Murders in Brazil Shines Spotlight on Militia Phenomenon

The militias are fed by both corruption within the country’s security forces and economic incentives as former police officers can earn more money by working for them.

As InSight Crime previously reported, the militia phenomenon has expanded outside of Rio de Janeiro in recent years. 

Julio Altieri, who works with the Rio de Janeiro-based security consulting company Amarante, told InSight Crime that limited security budgets, Brazil’s economic difficulties, and strategies focused on militarizing security efforts have aggravated the issue.

Also hampering efforts to counter these illegal groups is that Brazil's current government offers them tacit support.   

When he was a senator in 2008, Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro said that the militias “provide security, and therefore, maintain the order and discipline among communities. This is what's called a militia. The government should support them now that it cannot fight against the drug traffickers. And, maybe in the future, it should legalize them.” 

The relationship between paramilitary organizations and political and business sectors is not new in Latin America. In Colombia, the Attorney General's Office has accused banana companies of financing paramilitary groups between 1996 and 2004. The protection money went to buy weapons, which the paramilitaries used to systematically displace and murder civilians, prosecutors say. This allowed these groups to strengthen in the Urabá area, a drug trafficking hub in northwest Colombia.

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

BRAZIL / 13 MAR 2014

Authorities in Brazil have rescued 17 Peruvians from slave-like conditions in a textile workshop in São Paulo, leading officials to…

BRAZIL / 24 FEB 2022

Law enforcement in Latin America and Europe have disrupted a cocaine smuggling network that reached from Bolivia to Dubai, resulting…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 23 MAY 2016

Over 30 percent of all weapons belonging to private security firms in Rio de Janeiro end up in the hands…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…