By Sibel Tinar, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A large-scale operation named Operação Guilhotina (Operation Guillotine), conducted last week by Brazil’s Polícia Federal (Federal Police), the country’s federal investigation bureau, has so far led to the arrests of 38 people in Rio de Janeiro due to their involvement with criminal gangs and activities.

Dozens of police officers in Rio are accused of redirecting the weapons and drugs they confiscate during the operations back to the criminal gangs, photo by Vladimir Platonov/ABr.

Thirty of the arrested are police officers, and eight are civilians, while seven of the 45 arrest warrants issued remain outstanding. 580 agents have been mobilized for the operation that began on February 11th, and raided several police stations in various neighborhoods of Rio.

Among the arrested was Carlos Antônio de Oliveira, the former deputy chief of Polícia Civil (Civil Police), who used to hold a high-ranking position in the city’s Secretariat of Public Order until he was fired by the mayor Eduardo Paes upon his arrest.

Allan Turnowski, who used to be the Chief of Polícia Civil until this week, announced his resignation on Tuesday, despite the lack of formal accusations against him, as his former deputy Oliveira’s arrest caused a crisis within the department.

Operação Guilhotina aims to expose and eradicate police corruption that empowers the criminal gangs. The accusations that led to the issue of the warrants include receiving bribes from drug and weapons traffickers, providing criminals with information and protection, supporting militias, as well as involvement with prostitution and illegal gambling.

The officers were also accused of reselling the weapons and drugs that were confiscated during the city-wide conflicts last November that led to big police operations in Vila Cruzeiro and Complexo do Alemão.

Brazilian Minister of Defense Nelson Jobim has expressed his belief in the need to incarcerate the accused police officers, photo by Marcello Casal Jr/ABr.

“This was the first step towards rooting out the corrupt police in the state of Rio de Janeiro,” said Ângelo Fernando Goia, the commander of Polícia Federal that led the operation.

Brazil’s Minister of Defense, Nelson Jobim reiterated the importance of conducting rigorous public investigations. “We need to catch [the corrupt officers]; we need to put them in jail,” he said. “This will enable the identification of the internal problems within the police.”

Operação Guilhotina follows an investigation that began in 2009, with information that was uncovered during another police operation in Rocinha, Rio’s largest favela, and has involved phone taps and informants that led the investigators to the suspects.

“Nowhere in the world can the police make progress when they have this kind of people in their ranks,” said Jose Mariano Beltrame, the state security secretary of Rio, and added: “Such an operation may not be good for the image of the police, but in time it will be very beneficial.”

Beltrame has also stated that investigations on police officers were continuing, and new operations would take place in the near future. “I want the police officers to feel that they are being monitored,” he said. “This is a structural change.”

The operation comes at a critical time for Rio de Janeiro, in which the city has been trying to clean itself up and restore its image, due to the international scrutiny it faces as the host of the 2014 World Cup finals and 2016 Olympics.

11 COMMENTS

  1. In addition to this organized corruption and collaboration with trafficantes – is the problem of general abuse of power towards the public (e.g. unnecessary blitzes and harassing motorists… stopping pedestrians in the streets of Zona Norte and harassing them also… aggression towards favela residents where there are UPPs… and so on).

  2. thank you Diego for saying this…its is a shame when a population can not trust its own police force….people think the UPP’s are diferent but they are not! I fear the day when they will come to my favela.

  3. Is this rumor true… that ADA will blow up Cristo… if the government attempts to install a UPP in Rocinha..? Supposedly, that is what Nem threatened…

  4. I would check your source, well he can say this but who knows? I things will not be easy for the guys here with the military taking part in operations….

    all I can say is I dont want police here. Unless they replace from top to bottom the structure of the police forces, I dont see much changing with all the corrupton and abuses.

    I think it is a start in this they are punishing corrupt cops but this is 2011..why now? Maybe becase Rio is on display for the world for the upcoming events? What about after the games are over?

    trying to establish trust with us who have experienced abuse from the police will not come easy and now hearing stories of residents of Complexo do Alemao being killed becase of their helping the police will only reinforce more distrust in a system that does not protect the rights of us in favelas!

  5. I heard this from like two or three sources… but who knows if it’s true. I do know, however, that ADA in Rocinha has bazookas and dynamite. Whether they have the courage to use these weapons though, is another story… as the entire force of the state would want retribution if they did something drastic like blow up Cristo…

    I agree – a UPP would only be truly effective if the entire structure is overhauled. For this to happen, the police salaries would need to increase… their training would need to be better… and the judicial system needs to improve – to punish corruption…

    But i doubt that anything will change. Carnaval will arrive in a few weeks… people will no longer think about these issues. The fact is, that people here were more involved in watching and discussing Tropa de Elite II – than be involved with this REAL LIFE situation, of police corruption. Ironic – but sad, really… how peoples’ priorities are so skewed…

    And the media doesn’t even talk about Complexo Alemao anymore. A friend of mine who lives in front, tells me that it’s chaos there now – lots of assaults and robberies (not just by the police – but by the residents against other residents, because there are no more armed trafficantes to provide security)…

    You’re right also that after the Olympics are over, everything will return to ‘normal’. Everything happening now is just make-up. For example, this week… the prefeitura installed a ‘gym’ for kids in front of Santa Marta at that little praca. Instead of installing the equipment in the shade under the trees, it was installed under the sun – so it would be closer to Rua Sao Clemente and so the people passing can see how ‘nice’ the prefeitura is… building this stuff for the kids. (Of course, there is a massive sign with the prefeitura logo)…

    Brincadeira…

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