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By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Nine police officers that are part of the Grupo de Ações Táticas Especiais (GATE, or Special Tactical Action Group) of the 16th Military Police Battalion (Olaria) in Rio de Janeiro were arrested on Friday, June 9th, for associating with organized crime and drug trafficking.

Secretary of State for Security, Roberto Sá, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Brazil News
Secretary of State for Security, Roberto Sá, by the Military Police commander, Colonel Wolney Dias, at a press conference after the May 2nd violence in Rio’s Zona Norte, photo by Tomaz Silva/Agência Brasil.

The officers are accused of working for a faction of the Comando Vermelho (CV, or Red Command) to retake territory in the Cidade Alta of Cordovil, in the Zona Norte (North Zone).

Information on police involvement surfaced after the arrest of 45 suspects, and seizure of 32 rifles, in clashes between rival factions on May 2nd. The wide-scale violence left three officers wounded, and more than 3,000 children without school classes in the region.

According to a government report, among the arrested detainees was the drug trafficker Carlos Alberto de Assis Farias, Cachoeira (Waterfall), who revealed a plan to recover the region with the help of the Unit’s Special Tactical Actions Group.

Lieutenant Colonel Benevenuto Santos said Cachoeira “expressed dissatisfaction with the failure of the invasion because he had paid a certain amount of money to police officers of the 16th BPM who would assist him and his cronies in the recovery of Cidade Alta.”

Santos went on to say that Cachoeira pointed out the policemen involved, those who were to provide the service of the GATE on the morning of May 2, 2017. Adding that Cachoeira was dissatisfied because still the BOPE appeared in the region to repel the attempted invasion.

According to government news sources, since the end of 2016 the members of the GATE police have been receiving bribes to help part of the Comando Vermelho criminal faction take control of drug trafficking points in Cordovil in the Zona Norte.

Currently the area is dominated by criminals of the Third Pure Command (TCP), according to a government report. It was also suspected that the police have rented out an armored car, known as the caveirão, to infiltrate the favela community.

In addition to the temporary arrest of the officers, the judge, Tula Mello of the 2nd Criminal Court of the Rio Court of Justice, also ordered the bank and tax records to be opened, and blocked the assets of the nine military police being investigated.

In 2013 the military police in Rio were found to be Brazil’s most corrupt police force, according to the National Victimization Survey, commissioned by the Ministry of Justice and the United Nations Program for Development.

Last week after the federal government announced a public security plan and the creation of a social action task force for Rio de Janeiro, Governor Luiz Fernando Pezão applauded the assistance in the fight against the traffic of arms and drugs.

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