By Fiona Hurrell, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The 7th Battalion of Polícia Militar (PM) in São Gonçalo has, once again, found itself embroiled in scandal. Following the removal of former Lieutenant Claudio Luiz de Oliveira, suspected of ordering the murder of Judge Patricia Acioli in August of this year, the Battalion faces fresh controversy surrounding his replacement, Lieutenant Colonel Djalma Beltrami who is accused of involvement in drug trafficking.
An investigation, known as Operação Dezembro Negro (Black December), which looked in to a number of deaths related to trafficking in Morro da Coruja, in the São Gonçalo region of Rio State, culminated in the arrest of the commander on Monday morning.
The investigation discovered that police from the 7th Battalion were accepting bribes in order to allow drug trafficking to continue freely. During an undercover operation using wired microphones officers were caught discussing their fees with traffickers.
One of the conversations was later decoded to reveal an officer asking for R$10,000 for the ‘zero one’, referring to the commander, and R$5,000 for each of the support officers per week.
Police served 24 arrest warrants, as against 13 policemen and 11 accused drug traffickers. The police are accused of receiving bribes equaling about R$160,000 per month.
In an interview with Radio Station ‘News Band’, Secretary of Public Security José Mariano Beltrame, spoke of his disappointment with the police chief and his team, stating that he was “displeased with the conduct of the commander” and admitted that the São Gonçalo police force created “challenges”.
Read more (in Portuguese).
* The Rio Times Daily Update is a new feature we are offering to help keep you up-to-date with major news as it happens.