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 / 5 NOV 2014

In an operation that saw dozens arrested across four states, authorities in Brazil targeted a crime ring that allegedly provided…

BRAZIL / 9 MAY 2017

Authorities say clashes between rival criminal groups have led to a spike in murders in Brazil's biggest city, but other…

BRAZIL / 31 AUG 2011

Sky-high rates of car theft in São Paulo are fueled by an international car trafficking industry that reportedly funds Brazil's…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…