Small Wars Journal

Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 32: Militias (Milícias) Surpass Gangs (Gangues) in Territorial Control in Rio de Janeiro  

Mon, 10/26/2020 - 7:43pm

Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 32: Militias (Milícias) Surpass Gangs (Gangues) in Territorial Control in Rio de Janeiro  

John P. Sullivan, José de Arimatéia da Cruz, and Robert J. Bunker


Various factions (facções) exert territorial control over portions of Rio de Janeiro.  These include gangs and militias (gangues e milícias) that challenge the state, contest territorial control and illicit markets, and exert raw political power of criminal governance.  A recent study: Mapa dos Grupos Armados do Rio (Map of the Armed Groups of Rio) conducted by a team of researchers from several Rio de Janeiro universities and civil society organizations mapped the distribution of criminal armed groups (CAGs) in Rio de Janeiro.

Key Information: Ana Luiza Albuquerque, “Milícias superam o tráfico e controlam mais da metade do território no Rio, indica estudo.” Folha de S.Paulo. 18 October 2020, https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/cotidiano/2020/10/milicias-superam-o-trafico-e-controlam-mais-da-metade-do-territorio-no-rio-indica-estudo.shtml?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social-media&utm_content=geral&utm_campaign=noticias:

Mais de dois milhões de cariocas vivem em bairros dominados por grupos paramilitares

Segundo o levantamento, estruturado a partir de denúncias recebidas pelo Disque-Denúncia, em 2019 os grupos paramilitares já controlavam 57,5% da superfície territorial da cidade, o que corresponde a 41 de 161 bairros.

Isso significa que as milícias, que em sua configuração atual começaram a se desenvolver nos anos 2000, já ultrapassam em controle territorial facções do tráfico de drogas estabelecidas a partir da década de 1980, como o CV (Comando Vermelho), o ADA (Amigos dos Amigos) e o TCP (Terceiro Comando Puro).[1]

Key Information: Nicolás Satriano, “Rio tem 3,7 milhões de habitantes em áreas dominadas pelo crime organizado; milícia controla 57% da área da cidade, diz estudo.” G1 Rio (O Globo). 19 October 2020, https://g1.globo.com/rj/rio-de-janeiro/noticia/2020/10/19/rio-tem-37-milhoes-de-habitantes-em-areas-dominadas-pelo-crime-organizado-milicia-controla-57percent-da-area-da-cidade-diz-estudo.ghtml:

Resumo

Levantamento aponta que

2,1 milhões de pessoas (33% da população) vivem em área sob o comando de milícias;

1,1 milhão de pessoas (18,2% da população) vivem em área dominada pelo Comando Vermelho;

337,2 mil pessoas (5,1% da população) vivem em área dominada pelo Terceiro Comando;

48,2 mil pessoas (0,7% da população) vivem em área dominada pelo Amigos dos Amigos.[2]

Key Information: Aiuri Rebello, “Milícias já dominam um quarto dos bairros do Rio de Janeiro, com quase 60% do território da cidade.” El País (Brasil). 19 October 2020, https://brasil.elpais.com/brasil/2020-10-19/milicias-ja-dominam-um-quarto-dos-bairros-do-rio-de-janeiro-com-quase-60-do-territorio-da-cidade.html:

As milícias cariocas já controlam 25,5% dos bairros do Rio de Janeiro, em um total de 57,5% do território da cidade. As três principais facções criminosas do tráfico de drogas—Comando Vermelho, Terceiro Comando e Amigos dos Amigos—possuem juntas o domínio de outros 34,2% dos bairros e 15,4% do território. Ao todo, 3,7 milhões de pessoas vivem em local controlado por algum grupo criminoso, ou o equivalente a 57,1% da população…

Questão central

“A questão do controle territorial é central para entender a questão da segurança pública no Rio de Janeiro”, afirma o pesquisador Daniel Hirata, um dos coordenadores do estudo. “Para pensar qualquer política pública nessa área é fundamental possuir e entender esse mapeamento. A maior parte da população é afetada por essa lógica que rege as disputas entre os grupos criminosos daqui.”

De acordo com o pesquisador, as facções criminosas do tráfico de drogas são mais antigas e ocuparam territórios mais centrais e fragmentados em regiões centrais no Rio de Janeiro. As milícias, por sua vez, atuam em áreas muito populosas no limite da expansão urbana da cidade e região metropolitana.[3]

Key Information: Charlotte Mitchell, “Criminal militias control more than half of Rio de Janeiro: Armed groups formed mainly by ex-cops ‘have over-run drug gangs and installed reign of terror over neighbourhoods.’” Daily Mail. 20 October 2020, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8858437/Armed-groups-run-drug-gangs-installed-reign-terror-neighbourhoods-Rio.html:

Armed militia groups control more than half the territory of Rio de Janeiro, installing a reign of terror in poor neighbourhoods that are home to nearly 2.2 million people, according to a study published on Monday [19 October 2020].

The criminal groups run extortion rackets and often act as de facto authorities in neighborhoods that last year represented 57.5 percent of the surface area of Brazil’s second city, said a consortium including two universities, online watchdog platforms and a government anti-crime hotline.

The Brazilian Public Security Forum's latest study found that the groups have largely overpowered drug gangs as the main criminal organisations in the 41 neighbourhoods, home to 33 percent of the megacity’s population.  

Third Generation Gangs Analysis

Criminal armed groups (CAGs) including a range of factions (facções) exert territorial control and criminal governance over portions of Rio de Janeiro (RJ).  These groups include gangs and militias (gangues e milícias).[4] While various gangs have long exerted control over criminal markets and local politics in Brazil’s favelas (shantytowns), militias have grown from vigilante groups into powerful criminal enterprises.[5] Indeed, the militias have grown into parallel powers[6] exerting criminal governance.[7]  The contested space leads to a range of actors (including CAGs, the police, and at times the military) occupying the neighborhoods and favelas and competing for control.[8]

Mapping the extent and range of territorial control, by the various factions: drug traffickers, gangs, and militias helps to illustrate the contours of parallel power and criminal competition.  In this case a group of universities and civil society organizations mapped Rio’s criminal parallel state. The study and mapping project was conducted by a team comprised of researchers from the Study Group for New Illegalisms (Grupo de Estudos dos Novos Ilegalismos – GENI) at Fluminense Federal University (Universidade Federal Fluminense – UFF), the Cross-Fire (Fogo Cruzado) data lab; University of São Paulo Violence Studies Center (Núcleo de Estudos da Violência da Universidade de São Paulo – USP); Pista News, and the crime tips Hotline (Disque-Denúncia). 

According to Daniel Hirata, director of GENI/UFF, the map of armed groups in RJ was based on an initial survey of 38,887 reports (reduced to 10,206 reports after screening for validity and removing redundancy).[9]  Maria Isabel Couto, a member of the research team explained that three criteria were used to define the controlling faction domination (dominação) of each area,  These factors were: territorial control, social control, and market activities. The combination of these factors was used to characterize specific areas as being controlled by a specific armed group.[10]

Militias have been gaining in strength over the past five years with an 87% rise in complaints directed against them in RJ. The militias sell protection (security), black market gasoline, and illicit access to pay TV among their rackets.[11]

Armed gangs in RJ

Figure 1: Map of Armed Groups in Rio de Janeiro.

Source: Disque-Denúncia (Elaboração Fogo Cruzado, GENI-UFF, NEV-USP, Pista News) at: https://bit.ly/3otn4Yv. Screen shot of interactive map used with permission.[12]

The ‘Map of the Armed Groups of Rio’ study found that three factions—the Comando Vermelho (Red Command), Terceiro Comando (Third Command), and Amigos dos Amigos (Friends of Friends)—dominate 15.4% of the territory in the RJ capital region with CAGs present in 96 of 163 neighborhoods in RJ—an area with a population of 3.76 million of the regions total 6.7 million.[13] 

Militias in comparison, control 41 neighborhoods (25.5%), with territory covering 686.75 km2 (57.5%) and a population of 2,178,620 (33.1%).  The drug factions/gangs are prevalent in more RJ neighborhoods but these have a smaller population than areas dominated by militias.  Gangs dominate 15.4% of RJ territory vice the 57.5% dominated by militias.

Figure 1 describes the territorial distribution of these various factions with Command Vermelho (Red Command) in red; Terceiro Comando Puro (Third Pure Command) in green; Amigos dos Amigos (Friends of Friends) in yellow militias in blue; and disputed territory in gray.[14]  Bottom line, the various militias dominate 57.5% of RJ’s territory.[15]

The growing strength of Rio’s militias demonstrates their political reach and the growth of parallel power and criminal governance.[16]  It also demonstrates potentials for confrontation between the militias, gangs, and state.  These confrontations result in insecurity, violence, and diminished state solvency (capacity + legitimacy) forming a criminal insurgency’ that in turn enables opportunities for criminal governance.[17]

Sources

Ana Luiza Albuquerque, “Milícias superam o tráfico e controlam mais da metade do território no Rio, indica estudo” Folha de S.Paulo. 18 October 2020, https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/cotidiano/2020/10/milicias-superam-o-trafico-e-controlam-mais-da-metade-do-territorio-no-rio-indica-estudo.shtml?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social-media&utm_content=geral&utm_campaign=noticias.

Jaqueline Deister, “Milícia supera tráfico e controla mais da metade do território do RJ, aponta estudo. Brasil de Fato. 20 October 2020, https://www.brasildefato.com.br/2020/10/20/milicia-supera-trafico-e-controla-mais-da-metade-do-territorio-do-rj-aponta-estudo.

Charlotte Mitchell, “Criminal militias control more than half of Rio de Janeiro: Armed groups formed mainly by ex-cops 'have over-run drug gangs and installed reign of terror over neighborhoods.'” Daily Mail. 20 October 2020, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8858437/Armed-groups-run-drug-gangs-installed-reign-terror-neighbourhoods-Rio.html.

Aiuri Rebello, “Milícias já dominam um quarto dos bairros do Rio de Janeiro, com quase 60% do território da cidade.” El País (Brasil). 19 October 2020, https://brasil.elpais.com/brasil/2020-10-19/milicias-ja-dominam-um-quarto-dos-bairros-do-rio-de-janeiro-com-quase-60-do-territorio-da-cidade.html.

Nicolás Satriano, “Rio tem 3,7 milhões de habitantes em áreas dominadas pelo crime organizado; milícia controla 57% da área da cidade, diz estudo.” G1 Rio (O Globo). 19 October 2020, https://g1.globo.com/rj/rio-de-janeiro/noticia/2020/10/19/rio-tem-37-milhoes-de-habitantes-em-areas-dominadas-pelo-crime-organizado-milicia-controla-57percent-da-area-da-cidade-diz-estudo.ghtml.

Endnotes

[1] In English, the title reads: “Militias overcome traffic and control more than half of the territory in Rio, study indicates.” The text reads: “More than two million Cariocas live in neighborhoods dominated by paramilitary groups.” … “According to the survey, structured on the basis of complaints received by the Hotline, in 2019 the paramilitary groups already controlled 57.5% of the city’s territory, which corresponds to 41 of 161 neighborhoods.” … “This means that the militias, which in their current configuration began to develop in the 2000s, already surpass  drug trafficking factions such as the CV (Comando Vermelho), the ADA (Amigos dos Friends) and TCP [Terceiro Comando Puro] (Third Pure Command) established since the 1980s, in territorial control.”

[2] In English, the title reads: “Rio has 3.7 million inhabitants in areas dominated by organized crime; militia controls 57% of the city area, says study.” The text reads: “Abstract…Survey points out that: 2.1 million people (33% of the population) live in an area under the command of militias; 1.1 million people (18.2% of the population) live in an area dominated by the Comando Vermelho; 337,200 people (5.1% of the population) live in an area dominated by the Third Command; 48,200 people (0.7% of the population) live in an area dominated by Amigos dos Amigos.”

[3] In English the title reads: “Militias already dominate a quarter of Rio de Janeiro’s neighborhoods, with almost 60% of the city's territory.”The text reads: “Carioca militias already control 25.5% of Rio de Janeiro’s neighborhoods, in a total of 57.5% of the city's territory. The three main criminal factions of drug trafficking—Commando Vermelho, Terceiro Comando and Amigos dos Amigos—together have the domination of another 34.2% of the neighborhoods and 15.4% of the territory. Altogether, 3.7 million people live in a place controlled by some criminal group, or the equivalent of 57.1% of the population… “Central issue… ‘The issue of territorial control is central to understanding the issue of public security in Rio de Janeiro,’ says researcher Daniel Hirata, one of the study’s coordinators.  ‘To think about any public policy in this area, it is essential to have and understand this mapping. Most of the population is affected by this logic that governs disputes between criminal groups here.’”… “According to the researcher, the criminal drug trafficking factions are older and occupied more central and fragmented territories in central regions of Rio de Janeiro. The militias, in turn, operate in highly populated areas on the edge of the urban expansion of the city and metropolitan region.

[4] See John P. Sullivan, “The Challenges of Territorial Gangs: Civil Strife, Criminal Insurgencies and Crime Wars.” Revista do Ministério Público Militar (Brazil), Edição n. 31, November 2019, https://bit.ly/3otn4Yv for an overview of the challenges faced by states in addressing territorial gangs and CAGs.

[5] See Jaqueline Deister, “Dos grupos de extermínio à política institucional: entenda a trajetória das milícias.” Brasil de Fato. 6 May 2020, https://www.brasildefatorj.com.br/2020/05/06/dos-grupos-de-exterminio-a-politica-institucional-entenda-a-trajetoria-das-milicias.

[6] See Mariana Simões, “’In Rio de Janeiro, the Militia Isn’t a Parallel Power. It’s the Government.’ [INTERVIEW].” RioOnWatch. 12 March 2019, https://www.rioonwatch.org/?p=51031 originally in Portuguese at Mariana Simões, “ENTREVISTA: ‘No Rio de Janeiro a milícia não é um poder paralelo. É o Estado.’” Publica (Agência de Jornalismo Investigativo). 28 January 2019, https://apublica.org/2019/01/no-rio-de-janeiro-a-milicia-nao-e-um-poder-paralelo-e-o-estado/.

[7] For a useful perspective on criminal governance see, Benjamin Lessing, “Conceptualizing Criminal Governance.” Perspectives on Politics, 2020, pp. 1-20.  DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1537592720001243.

[8] Matthew Aaron Richmond, “The Pacification of Brazil’s Urban Margins: How Police and Traffickers Co-produce Insecurity.” Small Wars Journal. 16 November 2019, https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/pacification-brazils-urban-margins-how-police-and-traffickers-co-produce-insecurity.

[9] Jaqueline Deister, “Milícia supera tráfico e controla mais da metade do território do RJ, aponta estudo.” Brasil de Fato. 20 October 2020, https://www.brasildefato.com.br/2020/10/20/milicia-supera-trafico-e-controla-mais-da-metade-do-territorio-do-rj-aponta-estudo.

[10] “Também foi criado um ‘dicionário’ com termos mencionados nas denúncias para estabelecer três critérios que explicassem a dominação de cada local. São eles: controle territorial, controle social e atividades de mercado.” Maria Isabel Couto quoted in Nicolás Satriano, “Rio tem 3,7 milhões de habitantes em áreas dominadas pelo crime organizado; milícia controla 57% da área da cidade, diz estudo.” G1 Rio (O Globo). 19 October 2020, https://g1.globo.com/rj/rio-de-janeiro/noticia/2020/10/19/rio-tem-37-milhoes-de-habitantes-em-areas-dominadas-pelo-crime-organizado-milicia-controla-57percent-da-area-da-cidade-diz-estudo.ghtml.

[11] Ana Luiza Albuquerque, “Milícias superam o tráfico e controlam mais da metade do território no Rio, indica estudo.” Folha de S. Paulo. 18 October 2020, https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/cotidiano/2020/10/milicias-superam-o-trafico-e-controlam-mais-da-metade-do-territorio-no-rio-indica-estudo.shtml?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social-media&utm_content=geral&utm_campaign=noticias.

[12] The authors of this note thank Daniel Hirata, GENI/UFF for his assistance and permission to use the map image with attribution to the study participants: Disque-Denúncia, Fogo Cruzado, GENI-UFF, NEV-USP, and Pista News.

[13] Op cit. Nicolás Satriano, “Rio tem 3,7 milhões de habitantes em áreas dominadas pelo crime organizado; milícia controla 57% da área da cidade, diz estudo.”

[14] Ibid.

[15] See also Dorah Feliciano, “Militias Control Quarter of Rio Neighborhoods, Almost 60 Percent of City Territory.” The Rio Times. 20 October 2020, https://riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/rio-de-janeiro/militias-control-a-quarter-of-rio-de-janeiros-neighborhoods-virtually-60-percent-of-the-citys-territory/.

[16] See Leandro Benmergui and Rafael Soares Gonçalves, “Urbanismo Miliciano in Rio de Janeiro. NACLA Report on the Americas, Vol. 51, No. 4, pp. 379-385, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10714839.2019.1692986.

[17] See John P. Sullivan, “How Illicit Networks Impact Sovereignty,” Chapter 10 in Michael Miklaucic and Jacqueline Brewer (Eds.), Convergence: Illicit Networks in the Age of Globalization. Washington, DC: National Defense University Press, 2013: pp. 171-188, https://inss.ndu.edu/Portals/68/Documents/Books/convergence.pdf; Christian Vianna de Azevedo. “Criminal Insurgency in Brazil: The Case of Rio de Janeiro: Context, Confrontation Issues and Implications for Brazilian Public Security.” Small Wars Journal. 22 January 2018, https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/criminal-insurgency-brazil; and Claudio Ramos da Cruz and David H. Ucko, “Beyond the Unidades de Polícia Pacificadora: Countering Comando Vermelho’s Criminal Insurgency.” Small Wars & Insurgencies, Vol. 29, Issue.1, 2018:  pp. 38-67. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09592318.2018.1404772.

For Additional Reading

John P. Sullivan and Robert J. Bunker, Eds., Strategic Notes on Third Generation Gangs. Bloomington, IN: Xlibris, 2020.

John P. Sullivan, Robert J. Bunker, and José de Arimatéia da Cruz, Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 30: Traficante Evangélico (Evangelical Trafficker) Creates “Complexo de Israel” Using Confessional Violence to Consolidate Control in Five Rio Favelas.” Small Wars Journal. 4 August 2020.

John P. Sullivan, “The Challenges of Territorial Gangs: Civil Strife, Criminal Insurgencies and Crime Wars.” Revista do Ministério Público Militar (Brazil), Edição n. 31, November 2019.

Christian Vianna de Azevedo. “Criminal Insurgency in Brazil: The Case of Rio de Janeiro: Context, Confrontation Issues and Implications for Brazilian Public Security.” Small Wars Journal. 22 January 2018.

Carlos Frederico de Oliveira Pereira, Gangues Territorias e Direito International dos Conflitos Armadas. Curitiba: Juruá Editora, 2016.

 

Categories: El Centro

About the Author(s)

Dr. John P. Sullivan was a career police officer. He is an honorably retired lieutenant with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, specializing in emergency operations, transit policing, counterterrorism, and intelligence. He is currently an Instructor in the Safe Communities Institute (SCI) at the Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California. Sullivan received a lifetime achievement award from the National Fusion Center Association in November 2018 for his contributions to the national network of intelligence fusion centers. He completed the CREATE Executive Program in Counter-Terrorism at the University of Southern California and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the College of William and Mary, a Master of Arts in Urban Affairs and Policy Analysis from the New School for Social Research, and a PhD from the Open University of Catalonia (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya). His doctoral thesis was “Mexico’s Drug War: Cartels, Gangs, Sovereignty and the Network State.” He can be reached at jpsullivan@smallwarsjournal.com.

Dr. José de Arimatéia da Cruz is a Professor of International Relations and International Studies at Georgia Southern University, Savannah, GA. He also is an Adjunct Research Professor at the U.S. Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute, Carlisle, PA, and a Research Fellow of the Brazil Research Unit at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington, DC.

Robert J. Bunker is Director of Research and Analysis, C/O Futures, LLC, and an Instructor at the Safe Communities Institute (SCI) at the University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy. He holds university degrees in political science, government, social science, anthropology-geography, behavioral science, and history and has undertaken hundreds of hours of counterterrorism training. Past professional associations include Minerva Chair at the Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College and Futurist in Residence, Training and Development Division, Behavioral Science Unit, Federal Bureau of Investigation Academy, Quantico. Dr. Bunker has well over 500 publications—including about 40 books as co-author, editor, and co-editor—and can be reached at docbunker@smallwarsjournal.com.   
 

Comments

najwayaminah

Tue, 10/27/2020 - 8:37am

The Third Generation Gangs are important to highlighted. The most of the borders need more security from terrorist and here some issues are created because of the lack of Strategy planning. They aren't frequently identify so politician need to take some serious steps.

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