HomeNewsBriefWrong Turn by Police in Rio Unveils Olympic Security Theater
BRIEF

Wrong Turn by Police in Rio Unveils Olympic Security Theater

BRAZIL / 12 AUG 2016 BY MIKE LASUSA EN

A wrong turn by an out-of-town police officer in Rio de Janeiro resulted in a shooting that killed one cop and injured two others, providing a peek behind the curtain of the security theater on display for this month's Olympic Games.

Three officers from the National Force -- a federal military police institution that has been assisting with Olympic security -- were on patrol in Rio's North Zone on the evening of August 10, when the officer driving their vehicle accidentally entered a neighborhood called Boca do Papai.

According to official accounts cited by local media outlets, gunmen then attacked the officers. The driver of the police vehicle, Hélio Vieira Andrade, a native of Roraima, Brazil's northernmost and least populated state, was fatally wounded by a bullet that struck his head. Vieira's colleagues escaped with less serious injuries.

Boca do Papai is one of several "favelas," or informal neighborhoods, that make up a larger area known as Complexo da Maré. Hundreds of security forces occupied Complexo da Maré beginning in late March in order to prepare for Olympic events to be held nearby.

Within hours of the August 10 attack, Justice Minister Alexandre de Moraes said authorities had identified two suspects in the shooting. Law enforcement officials later identified three suspects, whom they described as leading figures in the local drug trafficking scene. None have yet been arrested.

On the morning of August 11, authorities mounted an operation to examine the crime scene under heavy security, including armored vehicles, canine units and military snipers that cut off entry and exit from the area.

In comments reported by Folha de São Paulo, Defense Minister Raul Jungmann lamented Vieira's death, but said there not should be "the least shadow of a doubt that Rio is a safe city."

InSight Crime Analysis

The Brazilian government has mobilized some 85,000 security personnel and plans to spend more than $215 million on security for the Olympic Games, which are being held in Rio this month. But as illustrated by the events in Boca do Papai, this massive investment of resources has generated uneven results that have led some experts to criticize the government for engaging in "security theater" -- the practice of trying to improve perceptions of security without adequately addressing underlying problems.

SEE ALSO: Brazil News and Profiles

As the New York Times recently put it, "the overwhelming show of force has not exactly vanquished crime." Several Olympic athletes and other high-profile personalities have recently fallen victim to various crimes including mugging and kidnapping, and authorities have warned that cyber criminals are likely treating the Games as a "great playground."  

Meanwhile, many Rio residents have complained that the heavy security presence has been accompanied by incidents of police brutality, often directed at the city's most disadvantaged citizens, and some say it has not led to any lasting improvement in security. According to one Rio resident who spoke to the New York Times in November 2015, the government's security strategy for the city "should have been called 'makeup.' Government makeup. Because the police came in and changed nothing."

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 / 27 NOV 2012

Brazilian police intelligence confirms that the PCC prison gang is expanding across the country from its São Paulo base, with…

BRAZIL / 24 MAY 2017

A police operation against an open-air drug market in São Paulo, Brazil has simply displaced the problem, as buyers and…

NICARAGUA / 22 JUN 2018

Armed "parapolice" groups have played a central role in the violent repression of opposition protesters in Nicaragua over the past…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…

THE ORGANIZATION

Backing Investigative Journalism Around the Globe

5 NOV 2021

InSight Crime was a proud supporter of this year's Global Investigative Journalism Conference, which took place November 1 through November 5 and convened nearly 2,000 journalists…

THE ORGANIZATION

Tracking Dirty Money and Tren de Aragua

29 OCT 2021

InSight Crime was delighted to support investigative reporting in the Americas through a workshop with our friends at Connectas, a non-profit journalism initiative that facilitates collaboration…