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Brazil Temporarily Militarizes Domestic Ports and Airports to Combat Organized Crime

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced on Wednesday that, given the situation of rising violence in Rio de Janeiro and other states, the Brazilian government has launched an integrated operation to combat organized crime and militias in the country.

The integrated operation consists of a series of military and financial measures to be taken by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, the Ministry of Defense, the armed forces, and the federal police. The measures include expanding operations and strengthening enforcement actions at major ports, borders, and airports in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, augmenting police personnel and equipment, and setting up an Integrated Committee for Financial Investigation and Asset Recovery (CIFRA) to weaken the financial power of the gangs. Extra manpower will also be put into highways in Rio de Janeiro. Moreover, a Special Action Group to Combat Organized Crime (GAECO) has been established, the mandate of which is to prevent and repress the activities of criminal organizations in the country.

The region of Rio de Janeiro has been a logistics hub for drug dealing and weapon trafficking in Brazil, with local gangs and dealers, known as “militias,” gaining power and causing violence. The government’s temporary measures were applied after several high-profile killings and violent incidents took place. Just a week ago, gangsters set fire to at least 35 buses in Rio de Janeiro to retaliate against the police killing of a gang leader’s relative.

Since the initiation of the operation, the Brazilian police, together with the GAECO, executed 28 arrest and search and seizure warrants on Wednesday. The integrated operation is expected to be in place until May 2024, with the possibility to be further extended.

Source: Jurist