HomeNewsMilitias Fleece Locals for Basic Services in Rio Favelas
NEWS

Militias Fleece Locals for Basic Services in Rio Favelas

BRAZIL / 25 MAR 2022 BY SCOTT MISTLER-FERGUSON EN

Armed militias in many of Rio de Janeiro's favelas are setting exorbitant prices for gas cylinders and other basic goods, knowing residents have little choice but to pay up.

The average price of a gas cylinder in favelas controlled by gangs and armed militias is approximately $28, around 40 percent higher than the average price in the rest of the state, according to Brazilian news site Globo. Residents attempting to bypass the price hike and purchase cheaper gas from legal vendors may face violent reprisals.

"You can't buy gas anywhere else. You can only buy gas with the militias," a favela resident told Globo, adding that cylinders bought from different providers would be confiscated. "That's if they don't attack you because in the favela it's forbidden to buy gas from somewhere else," he said.

SEE ALSO: Gatonet - The Illegal TV Connections Bankrolling Militias in Rio

The militias – vigilante networks initially formed to combat Rio's powerful drug gangs, often comprising active and retired members of the security forces – have steadily evolved into criminal groups and gained a chokehold on a long list of basic services in the state. Aside from gas cylinders, these groups reportedly control internet and cable TV services, as well as transportation and construction businesses in many of Rio's favelas.

The militias have also usurped territories and criminal economies previously controlled by drug gangs. And according to a 2020 study by the Brazilian Public Security Forum, armed militias now control half the area of Rio De Janeiro.

InSight Crime Analysis

Militias in Rio's favelas have long filled a vacuum left by a largely absent state, stepping in to deliver services including electricity, internet, water, and even clandestine television.

But while services such as television have been sold at a lower prices – allowing militias to undercut legal providers – these groups are now taking advantage of their monopolistic territorial control to hike costs for gas cylinders. And with no other suppliers, residents of many Rio favelas are at the whim of criminal groups.

SEE ALSO: Brazil Tries to Reclaim Rio's Favelas - Ad Infinitum

In addition to controlling basic commodities, Rio militias have also set up lucrative extortion rackets targeting local businesses, car parks and real estate companies. The militias are also heavily involved the drug trade and money laundering; the groups boast a vast network of legal businesses used to conceal illicit funds.

Heavy-handed state interventions have done little to unseat these groups. Past operations have rarely targeted zones held by militias, instead opting for territory held by drug trafficking gangs.

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 / 14 DEC 2020

It was a Tuesday night, January 14, 2020, after “free time” when prison authorities found his body.

BRAZIL / 19 FEB 2020

Rio de Janeiro’s ultra-conservative governor, Wilson Witzel, was elected in 2018 on a tough-on-crime ticket. Like his erstwhile ally, President…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 13 MAY 2019

On May 7, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro signed a decree relaxing gun ownership laws, raising fears that it will worsen…

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…