A leader of the Justice League, one of Rio de Janeiro's most powerful militia groups, escaped from prison after the launch of an operation against his gang.
Carlos Ari Ribeiro, alias "Carlao," had been in custody since June 2010, and was being held in the military police's Special Prison Unit (Batalhão Especial Prisional) in a northern neighborhood of the city. He is a former military policeman who is a key member the Justice League (Liga da Justica).
His escape, in the early hours of Friday morning, came the day after police launched an operation against the group, arresting five alleged members.
Campaign group Amnesty International has criticized the "lax security" for current and former police officers held in the Special Prison Unit, noting reports that prisoners have been allowed to leave jail to commit assassinations.
Other members of the Justice League have escaped from the same facility, including now-recaptured Ricardo Teixeira da Cruz, known as “Batman.”
The Justice League is led by two former politicians,·Natalino Guimarães and his brother Jerominho. It is funded by extortion and provision of bootleg public services, such as transport and the Internet.