Reporting on urban violence in Rio de Janeiro commonly involves a comic-book plotline about "police" versus "drug traffickers," but the situation is much more complex.
The execution this week of a former top police official, accused of being involved in both militias and the vice underworld, may shed light on a commonly reported but as yet not systematically substantiated factoid: Militias, which are exclusively made up of off-duty police and fireman, are funded by non-traffic organized crime and political surrogates thereof.
The new governor of Rio, Mr. Cabral, has backed off recently on campaign statements in which he said he favored the Bogotization of Rio public safety. His public safety commissioner is a former federal police organized crime specialist.
The first thing Cabral did upon being sworn in was to activate a new federal-state cooperation program, the FNSP, which screens and retrains local police personnel under the auspices of the federal Ministry of Justice.
So stay tuned. It will be interesting to see if other street-level truisms, such as that the cops run prostitution in the Zona Sul, get looked into and put on the record as well.
I translate from A Tarde (Rio de Janeiro):
The Civil Police are looking into whether the murder of Inspector Félix dos Santos Tostes, 49, might be linked with the policeman's involvement with the one-armed bandit mafia and with the militia (a paramilitary group that expels drug traffickers and charges residents for protections) of the Rio das Pedras shantytown in Jacarepaguá (Western Zone, Rio de Janeiro).
Accused of leading the militiamen of this community and running the Rio das Pedras bingo palace, Tostes was executed with 34 gunshots the day before yesterday in the Recreio dos Bandeira[nte]s neighborhood, Western Zone.