By Samuel Elliott Novacich, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In an operation carried out by Draco (the Delegacia de Repressão a Ações Criminosas Organizadas, or Department of Repression Against Organized Crime) that culminated on July 27th, fourteen police officials suspected of militia involvement were arrested near Jacarepaguá, in the Zona Oeste (West Zone) of Rio de Janeiro. Setting the criminal organization and individuals under investigation apart from others is the fact that the militia was composed not only of individuals with links to the Military Police – as has been the case with many militias – but of members of the Civil and Federal Police corporations, the Aeronautical Police, and the Municipal Guard.
Six months of investigation has pinned retired Federal Police delegate Luiz Carlos da Silva, Civil Police commissioner Eduardo Lopes Moreira, and Military Police officer Thiago Rodrigues Pacheco as leaders of the militia group. According to information provided by the Public Ministry, the six month investigation was named Operation Triad, in reference to the unusually diverse composition of the criminal organization.
The group is accused of operating primarily in Taquara (West Zone) since 1998. During that time the militia, earning some R$200,000 a month, extorted money from residents by collecting security taxes, a monthly fee of approximately R$35, in addition to taxes on various other services like internet, cable, gas, and water.
Militia constituents reportedly flaunted their influence in the areas of Pedra Branca, Santa Maria, Pau da Fome, and along the Estrada dos Teixeiras, Estrada do Rio Pequeno, and Estrada do Rio Grande, by openly carrying assault rifles and machetes.
Another unique operational feature of the militia was a preemptive tactic of disqualifying witness credibility. The militia reportedly did this by denouncing their victims at local delegacies, and registering false crimes ranging from abuse to attempted homicide. “This militia broke new ground,” reported Fábio Galvão, sub-secretary of the Inteligência da Secretaria de Segurança (Intelligence Security Bureau, ISS), also instrumental in supporting the investigation.
This investigation has shown that the militia functioned under a well-defined division of labor. Eduardo Lopes Moreira, formerly of the Civil Police, is accused of being the muscle of the organization, linked to several executions and most often employed for intimidation. Moreira’s son, Felipe Lopes Moreira, is also accused of links to the militia and was arrested on the same day as his father.
Thiago Rodrigues Pacheco, formerly of the Military Police, is accused of controlling the regulation of alternative transport vans, gas services, and illegal TV and internet connections. According to the ongoing investigation, alternative transport vans of the area brandished Pacheco’s initials or used an adhesive mentioning the militia head to gain safe passage during police blitzes.
To further intimidate residents under the territorial control of the militia, leaders often threatened to allow drug traffickers into the region, particularly those who had been pushed out of territory now controlled by UPPs. “When someone didn’t submit to the taxes, they said that they would open the gates to drug trafficking leaders…to install themselves in Jacarepaguá. They tried to coerce the population with this,” said prosecutor Décio Luiz Gomes.
Two individuals investigated by the operation are still at large, one of whom is believed to be a sub-official of the Aeronautical Police.