HomeNewsBriefSeizures of High-Powered Weapons on the Rise in Rio de Janeiro
BRIEF

Seizures of High-Powered Weapons on the Rise in Rio de Janeiro

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 12 MAR 2015 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Weapons seizure figures from Brazil suggest Rio de Janeiro's criminals are seeking out ever more powerful guns, underlining the reasons behind the city's launch of a new anti-arms trafficking intelligence unit.

Weapons listed as "category A," such as rifles, machineguns and sub-machine guns, accounted for nearly 40 percent of weapons seized in Rio 2013, representing a 33 percent increase since 2009, reported Estadao.

With 8,101 weapons seized, 2013 also reversed the trend of falling arms seizures, which rose for the first time since 2009.

The head of Rio's Civil Police, Fernando Veloso, said 47 percent of the arms seized originated in the United States, with many of them passing through Paraguay before being smuggled to Brazil, according to Estadao.

Another main source is the arsenals of security forces, a fact reinforced by the disappearance of 26 weapons, including 11 rifles, three machineguns and three shotguns from a Rio Military Police cache last month.

The new figures on arms seizures, released by the state Public Security Institute (ISP), follow a declaration by Rio Security Secretary Jose Mariano Beltrame that the state's Department of Security is to create a new intelligence center to monitor arms trafficking in Rio.

The unit, which will begin work in June, will bring together military, civil and federal police to improve surveillance of Rio's state borders, reported Estadao.

InSight Crime Analysis

Around 90 percent of murders carried out in Brazil involve firearms, and according to the Small Arms Survey there are up to 9.6 million illegal weapons in the country.

The gangs that run many of the Rio's slums, or favelas, have long shown a preference for high-powered arms. Such weapons can be highly destructive in these dense urban environments, and the police say the use of these arms has contributed to the controversial militarization of their operations as they fight fire with fire.

SEE ALSO: Brazil News and Profiles

However, Rio state saw a dramatic 44 percent drop in gun deaths between 2000 and 2010, according to a report by non-governmental organization the Brazilian Centre for Latin American Studies (Cebela), and murder rates in the city, if not the state, have continued a downward trend since then. This has largely been attributed to the Slum Pacification Program (UPP), which has seen specialist police units occupy troubled favelas.

Nevertheless, over the last year there have been growing signs of a resurgence of gang activity in several UPP occupied favelas, and the rise in seizures of high-powered weapons is a reminder that Rio's organized crime networks remain a significant threat to the city and state's security.

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 / 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…

BOLIVIA / 4 SEP 2015

A recent shootout between Bolivian police and two foreign nationals speaks to the internationalization of Brazil's oldest criminal group.

BRAZIL / 28 AUG 2017

A new report says that Brazil's largest and most powerful criminal organization is planning a spate of attacks against…

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…