Brazil’s version of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, its Federal Police, arrested 35 people today, 27 of whom were police. A high-ranking Civil Police officer, Carlos Antônio de Oliveira, who until the mayor fired him today held a municipal post, turned himself in this afternoon. There are still about ten outstanding arrest warrants.
Those arrested are accused of selling weapons and drugs confiscated during favela operations (apparently including the November 2010 occupation of the Vila Cruzeiro and Complexo do Alemão favelas), passing on privileged information to drug traffickers and paramilitary group members, and working in private security, reportedly for prostitution and gambling enterprises. Wiretaps furnished the basis for the arrests. Boats were used today in Guanabara Bay to search for bodies allegedly dumped there by corrupt police, and agents searched lockers in two police stations.
Top-ranking police say the bust marks a new phase for Rio de Janeiro police. For the first time the Federal Police, state prosecutors and the state Public Safety Secretariat worked together.
Ângelo Gioia, Superintendent of the Federal Police bureau in Rio, told reporters that corrupt police pushed drug traffickers out of favela territories, only to take their illicit operations on for their own profit. “There were war spoils,” he explained. “It was in fact retrofeeding crime”. He added that monthly fees were charged to criminals, for supplying inside police information.
“We’re undertaking good and historic work,” he was quoted as saying in an O Dia newspaper story linking the arrest of one military police officer to Marcinho VP, a jailed drug trafficker who allegedly ordered the vehicle torchings of this past November. “Rio’s problem goes way back and is serious,” Goia continued. “We’re finding partners to help us, fortunately. I’m open to any kind of partnership and I believe we are providing concrete responses to society in the fight against crime.”
He didn’t name any particular partnerships, but private enterprise, including mining and energy mogul Eike Batista, have been helping to fund Rio’s police.
“No police force in the world can turn over a new leaf without cutting into its own flesh,” said state Public Safety Secretary José Mariano Beltrame, who helped lead the investigation, initiated in 2009 during a favela police foray aborted once he discovered that news of it had been leaked.
Civil Police chief Alan Turnowski testified for the investigation, this morning. In a radio interview, he called Oliveira a traitor. “How could [he] sell arms to a bandit who’s aimed weapons at your colleagues?” Turnowksi was quoted as saying in O Globo. Although Turnowski holds responsibility for his subordinates’ behavior, Beltrame said the former has his trust.