HomeNewsBriefRio de Janeiro Militia Made $3 Million Per Year
BRIEF

Rio de Janeiro Militia Made $3 Million Per Year

BRAZIL / 12 DEC 2012 BY JACK DAVIS EN

A Rio de Janeiro militia currently under investigation is said to have raised an average of $3 million per year through extortion and other illicit activities, an indication of the militias' ability to raise significant amounts of cash.

Police arrested 11 members of Rio de Janeiro militia the Liga da Justiça (Justice League) on December 6, according to Brazilian news outlet UOL.  The city police unit that investigates organized crime said that the militia made an average of $250,000 per month, mostly through the extortion of local community members (including security "taxes"), and providing other services such as the installation of illegal cable television. The militia is active in a western neighborhood, Campo Grande. 

One of the men arrested is a local pastor at a Pentecostal Church, accused of helping the militia handle their financial operations. According to the head of the police organized crime unit, the church essentially functioned as the militia's "loans and collection" office. The pastor was also known to endorse milita-backed political candidates from his pulpit.

InSight Crime Analysis

According to a 2012 study by the State University of Rio de Janeiro, the city's militias have changed their modus operandi over the past several years, becoming more clandestine and less affiliated with active duty or retired police personnel. The authors of the study, sociologists Ignacio Cano and Thais Duarte, say this transformation has come about because militias are losing legitimacy in the eyes of the public, and are frequently unable to convince politicians and citizens to give them support. This has limited their ability to operate openly in Rio de Janeiro and has reduced the economic and political power they once wielded. This influence reached its peak during 2006 and 2007, when a number of militia-backed political candidates were elected to public office, the study states. 

The investigation into the Liga da Justiça's dealings, however, paints a different picture. Despite operating in an allegedly more difficult environment, this militia was still able to pull in over $3 million in funds per year, through the same illicit practices traditionally associated with paramilitary organizations. The militia was also still able to garner public support from the local priest, a sign of their ability to continue establishing alliances with community leaders. 

Militias have operated in Rio de Janeiro for three decades and are closely linked with the city's police force. The vigilante groups initially formed to push criminal gangs and drug traffickers out of certain neighborhoods, but are now considered to be another criminal enterprise. 

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 / 7 JAN 2020

The recent murders of four drivers in Brazil show the country’s ride-sharing apps are struggling to keep their staff safe,…

BRAZIL / 28 JUL 2021

A cargo-theft ring in Rio de Janeiro partnered with a drug gang to steal millions of dollars’ worth of goods,…

BRAZIL / 12 SEP 2011

Hundreds of military police reinforcements were sent to Complexo de Alemao, a shantytown in the north of Rio de Janeiro, after…

About InSight Crime

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…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…