Small Wars Journal

Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 43: Former Rio de Janeiro Prison Secretary Arrested for Collusion with the Comando Vermelho

Fri, 09/10/2021 - 5:36pm

Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 43: Former Rio de Janeiro Prison Secretary Arrested for Collusion with the Comando Vermelho

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

On 17 August 2021, the ex-Secretary of Prisons (Secretaria de Administração Penitenciária Seap), Raphael Montenegro, was arrested for corruption after meeting with a Comando Vermelho (CV or Red Command) leader in the Federal Prison in Catanduvas, Paraná. He was fired from his position the day of his arrest. Montenegro was offering to transfer gang members to less restrictive state prisons in Rio de Janeiro and overlook the gang’s activities and prison expansion in exchange for reducing violence in Rio.

IFC

Penitenciária Federal de Catanduvas 

Source: Luiz Henrique Jorge CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Key Information: Yuri Eiras, “PF encontra cerca de R$ 200 mil na casa de ex-secretário da Seap.” O Dia. 17 August 2021, https://odia.ig.com.br/rio-de-janeiro/2021/08/6214638-pf-encontra-cerca-de-rs-200-mil-na-casa-de-ex-secretario-da-seap.html:

Superintendente da PF afirma que Raphael Montenegro tinha intenção de ‘capital político’ na negociação com líderes do CV. Operação vai investigar se secretário também recebia dinheiro dos criminosos

A intenção inicial do ex-secretário da Administração Penitenciária Raphael Montenegro na negociação com presos de alta periculosidade do Comando Vermelho (CV) era mobilizar capital político com pessoas próximas aos criminosos, segundo apontou as investigações da Polícia Federal. A instituição apura agora se a alta cúpula da Secretaria de Administração Penitenciária (Seap) também recebia dinheiro de integrantes da facção. A operação apreendeu aproximadamente R$ 200 mil na casa de Montenegro.[1]

Key Information: Yuri Eiras, “Ex-secretário prometia ‘vista grossa’ à expansão internacional do Comando Vermelho.” O Dia. 18 August 2021, https://odia.ig.com.br/rio-de-janeiro/2021/08/6215337-ex-secretario-prometia-vista-grossa-a-expansao-internacional-do-comando-vermelho.html:

Gravações ambientais captadas no presídio federal de Catanduvas (PR) mostram que o ex-secretário da Seap (Secretaria de Administração Penitenciária), Raphael Montenegro, sabia da atuação do Comando Vermelho em outros estados e países, mas não entregaria à polícia. A contrapartida da ‘vista grossa’ seria o bom comportamento dos líderes da facção a partir do momento que fossem transferidos para cadeias do Rio. Montenegro e outros dois subsecretários foram presos na quarta-feira (17) em operação da Polícia Federal. Eles respondem por associação ao tráfico, advocacia administrativa e falsidade ideológica.

Em um diálogo captado pelo Departamento Penitenciário Nacional (Depen) e pela Polícia Federal - e que consta na decisão de prisão do Tribunal Regional Federal da 2ª Região (TRF-2) -, Raphael Montenegro conversa com José Cláudio de Souza Fontarigo, o Claudinho da Mineira, sobre a parceria do Comando Vermelho com a Família do Norte (FDN), facção que domina os presídios do norte do país. Montenegro diz que sabe da atuação de criminosos do CV até em outros países, como Peru e Paraguai.[2]

Key Information: “Ex-secretário da Seap Raphael Montenegro deve sair da prisão neste domingo; ele foi preso por suspeita de acordo com facção criminosa.” G1 (Globo). 21 August 2021, https://g1.globo.com/rj/rio-de-janeiro/noticia/2021/08/21/ex-secretario-da-seap-raphael-montenegro-deve-sair-da-prisao-neste-domingo-ele-foi-preso-por-suspeita-de-acordo-com-faccao-criminosa.ghtml:

Deve deixar a cadeia neste domingo (22) o ex-secretário de Administração Penitenciária do RJ Raphael Montenegro. Ele foi preso pela Polícia Federal (PF) na última terça-feira (17) por suspeita de negociar acordos com chefes do Comando Vermelho — a maior facção criminosa de tráfico de drogas do estado.

O prazo da prisão temporária de Montenegro se encerrou neste sábado (21).

Segundo as investigações, a cúpula da Seap negociou acordos “em troca de influência sobre os locais de domínio destes traficantes e outras vantagens ilícitas”. 

Entre os acordos, estariam: 

  • retorno de criminosos presos na Penitenciária Federal de Catanduvas, no Paraná, para o Rio de Janeiro;
  • a entrada de pessoas e itens proibidos em unidades prisionais fluminenses;
  • a soltura irregular, em 27 de julho, de Wilton Carlos Rabello Quintanilha, o Abelha, de 50 anos, “um criminoso de altíssima periculosidade, contra quem havia mandados de prisão pendentes”.[3]

Key Information: Marco Antônio Martins, “Ex-secretário de Administração Penitenciária Raphael Montenegro deixa prisão no RJ.” G1 (Globo). 22 August 2021, https://g1.globo.com/rj/rio-de-janeiro/noticia/2021/08/22/ex-secretario-de-administracao-penitenciaria-raphael-montenegro-deixa-prisao-no-rj.ghtml:

O ex-secretário de Administração Penitenciária (Seap) do RJ Raphael Montenegro deixou a prisão pouco antes das 10h30 deste domingo (22). Ele foi preso pela Polícia Federal (PF) na última terça-feira (17) por suspeita de negociar acordos com chefes do Comando Vermelho — a maior facção criminosa de tráfico de drogas do estado.

O prazo da prisão temporária de Montenegro se encerrou neste sábado (21). A lei permite que a prisão dos investigados seja prorrogada, mas a Polícia Federal e o Ministério Público Federal não pediram a extensão do prazo.

Montenegro foi exonerado no mesmo dia da prisão. Foi substituído por Victor Poubel, que ficou apenas três dias no cargo. O delegado Fernando Veloso assumiu a pasta nesta sexta-feira.

Montenegro foi alvo da Operação Simonia, que também prendeu o subsecretário da Seap — Wellington Nunes da Silva, da gestão operacional, e Sandro Farias Gimenes, superintendente.[4]

Third Generation Gangs Analysis

Raphael Montenegro, the former Rio de Janeiro state secretary for prison administration (Secretaria de Administração Penitenciária – Seap) was arrested on Tuesday 17 August 2021 by Brazil’s Polícia Federal (PF or Federal Police) for suspected collusion with the leadership of the Comando Vermelho (CV) or Red Command. The CV is one of Brazil’s major territorial gangs with significant control of many of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas.[5][6] Montenegro was in office for only seven months and arrested along with high ranking Seap officials Wellington Nunes da Silva (undersecretary of operational management) and Sandro Farias Gimenes (superintendent). His replacement, Victor Poubel, only lasted three days before he was removed, further highlighting the deep co-option of Seap officials.[7]  

Montenegro

O novo Secretário de Administração Penitenciária do Estado, Raphael Montenegro Hirschfeld, iniciou a sua gestão afirmando que sua equipe atuará de forma incansável para a regulamentação da Polícia Penal e valorização dos servidores da Pasta.[8] SEAP RJ, @SEAPOFICIAL. Twitter. 11 February 2021, https://twitter.com/SEAPOFICIAL/status/1359880037982437383

Booking Photos

Booking Photos of Raphael Montenegro Hirschfeld. 17 August 2021 (Federal Police, Brazil) 

The arrest occurred during a PF investigation named Operação Simonia (Operation Simona) conducted after reports that Montenegro visited key CV leaders incarcerated in the Penitenciária Federal de Catanduvas (Federal Prison at Catanduvas), Paraná. The operation was named after ‘simony,’ the medieval ecclesiastical practice in which holders of office exchanged illegitimate benefits for spurious advantages. The practice is a classic form of corruption. It also demonstrates the inter-penetration of criminal and state officials that erodes perceptions of state legitimacy and empowers gangs.[9] 

This recent example of corruption is indicative of the penetration of criminal factions into the state’s criminal justice institutions—in this case, the prison system. This is notable since the Comando Vermelho, like its archrival the PCC (Primeiro Comando da Capital or First Capital Command), uses the prison system as a base of operations for their ‘prison-street gang complex.’ Corruption, collusion, and violence are the hallmarks of gang competition with the state and rival criminal enterprises. They represent third generation gang (3Gen Gang) power seeking behaviors which are undermining Brazilian state capacity.

Sources

Yuri Eiras, “Ex-secretário prometia ‘vista grossa’ à expansão internacional do Comando Vermelho.” O Dia. 18 August 2021, https://odia.ig.com.br/rio-de-janeiro/2021/08/6215337-ex-secretario-prometia-vista-grossa-a-expansao-internacional-do-comando-vermelho.html.

Yuri Eiras, “PF encontra cerca de R$ 200 mil na casa de ex-secretário da Seap.” O Dia. 17 August 2021, https://odia.ig.com.br/rio-de-janeiro/2021/08/6214638-pf-encontra-cerca-de-rs-200-mil-na-casa-de-ex-secretario-da-seap.html.

“Ex-secretário da Seap Raphael Montenegro deve sair da prisão neste domingo; ele foi preso por suspeita de acordo com facção criminosa.” G1 (Globo). 21 August 2021, https://g1.globo.com/rj/rio-de-janeiro/noticia/2021/08/21/ex-secretario-da-seap-raphael-montenegro-deve-sair-da-prisao-neste-domingo-ele-foi-preso-por-suspeita-de-acordo-com-faccao-criminosa.ghtml.

Marco Antônio Martins, “Ex-secretário de Administração Penitenciária Raphael Montenegro deixa prisão no RJ.” G1 (Globo). 22 August 2021, https://g1.globo.com/rj/rio-de-janeiro/noticia/2021/08/22/ex-secretario-de-administracao-penitenciaria-raphael-montenegro-deixa-prisao-no-rj.ghtml.

Endnotes

[1] In English, the title reads: “PF finds about R$ 200 thousand in the house of former secretary of Seap.” The text reads: “Superintendent of PF [Federal Police] says Raphael Montenegro had intention of ‘political capital’ in negotiating with [Red Command] CV leaders. Operation will investigate if the secretary also received money from criminals.”… “The initial intention of the former Secretary of Penitentiary Administration Raphael Montenegro in negotiating with high-profile prisoners of the Red Command (CV) was to mobilize political capital with people close to the criminals, according to the investigations of the Federal Police. The institution is now investigating whether the top leadership of the Secretariat of Penitentiary Administration (Seap) also received money from members of the faction. The operation seized approximately R$ 200 thousand in Montenegro’s house.”

[2] In English, the title reads: “Ex-secretary promised to ‘turn a blind eye’ to Comando Vermelho's international expansion.” The text reads: “Environmental [sound] recordings captured in the federal prison in Catanduvas (PR) show that the former secretary of Seap (Secretaria de Administração Penitenciária) [Secretary of Penitentiary Administration], Raphael Montenegro, knew about the operations of the Comando Vermelho [Red Command] in other states and countries, but would not hand them over to the police. The counterpart to this ‘turning a blind eye’ would be the good behavior of the leaders of the faction once they were transferred to prisons in Rio [de Janeiro]. Montenegro and two other undersecretaries were arrested on Wednesday (17) in an operation by the Federal Police. They are charged with association with drug trafficking, administrative advocacy and forgery.”…“In a dialogue captured by the Departamento Penitenciário Nacional [National Penitentiary Department] (Depen) and the Federal Police—and contained in the arrest decision of the Federal Regional Court of the 2nd Region (TRF-2)—Raphael Montenegro talks with José Cláudio de Souza Fontarigo, Claudinho da Mineira, about the partnership of the Comando Vermelho [CV or Red Command] with the Família do Norte [Northern Family ] (FDN), a faction that dominates the prisons in the north of the country. Montenegro says he knows that criminals from the Comando Vermelho [Red Command] are even active in other countries, such as Peru and Paraguay.”

[3] In English, the title reads: “Former Seap Secretary Raphael Montenegro is expected to leave prison this Sunday; he was arrested on suspicion of making a deal with a criminal gang.”  The text reads: “The former secretary of Penitentiary Administration of RJ Raphael Montenegro should leave jail this Sunday (22). He was arrested by the Federal Police (PF) last Tuesday (17) on suspicion of negotiating deals with bosses of the Red Command—the largest drug trafficking criminal faction in the state.”…“Montenegro’s temporary arrest expired this Saturday (21).”…“According to the investigations, Seap’s top management negotiated agreements "in exchange for influence over the locations of these drug dealers and other illicit advantages.”… “Among the agreements were:

  • the return of criminals imprisoned in the Federal Penitentiary of Catanduvas, in Paraná, to Rio de Janeiro;
  • The entrance of forbidden people and items in Rio de Janeiro’s prison units;
  • the irregular release, on July 27, of Wilton Carlos Rabello Quintanilha, a 50 year-old ‘very dangerous criminal against whom there were outstanding warrants of arrest.’” 

[4] In English, the title reads: “The former secretary of Penitentiary Administration (Seap) of RJ.”  The text reads: “Raphael Montenegro left prison shortly before 1030 hours [10:30 am] this Sunday (22). He was arrested by the Federal Police (PF) last Tuesday (17) on suspicion of negotiating deals with bosses of the Red Command—the largest drug trafficking criminal faction in the state.”…“Montenegro’s temporary arrest expired this Saturday (21). The law allows the detention of the investigated to be extended, but the Federal Police and the Federal Prosecutor’s Office did not request the extension of the term.”…“Montenegro was dismissed on the same day of the arrest. He was replaced by Victor Poubel, who remained in office only three days. Deputy Fernando Veloso took over the portfolio on Friday.”…“Montenegro was the target of Operation Simonia, which also arrested the undersecretary of Seap—Wellington Nunes da Silva, of operational management, and Sandro Farias Gimenes, superintendent.”

[5] For additional detail on the Comando Vermelho (CV), see 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, no.1. 2018: pp. 38-67, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09592318.2018.1404772 and 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 2021, https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/criminal-insurgency-brazil.

[6] For context on territorial gangs, 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://www.academia.edu/40917684/The_Challenges_of_Territorial_Gangs_Civil_Strife_Criminal_Insurgencies_and_Crime_Wars.

[7] Marco Antônio Martins, “Ex-secretário de Administração Penitenciária Raphael Montenegro deixa prisão no RJ.” G1 (Globo). 22 August 2021, https://g1.globo.com/rj/rio-de-janeiro/noticia/2021/08/22/ex-secretario-de-administracao-penitenciaria-raphael-montenegro-deixa-prisao-no-rj.ghtml; Also see new term announcement of Raphael Montenegro Hirschfeld. SEAP RJ, @SEAPOFICIAL. Twitter. 11 February 2021, https://twitter.com/SEAPOFICIAL/status/1359880037982437383.     

[8] Translation of the caption: “The new Secretary of State Penitentiary Administration, Raphael Montenegro Hirschfeld, began his management term by stating that his team will work tirelessly for the regulation of the Penal Police and enhancing the status of the Department's employees.”

[9] For additional discussion on corruption, the state, and gangs, see Luis Jorge Garay-Salamanca and Eduardo Salcedo-Albarán, Eds., Drug Trafficking, Corruption and States (A Small Wars Journal-El Centro and Vortex Foundation Book). Bloomington iUniverse, 2015 and Natalie D. Baker and Gabriel Leão, “Parties of Crime? Brazil’s facções criminosas – good governance and bad government.” Small Wars Journal. 19 July 2021, https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/parties-crime-brazils-faccoes-criminosas-good-governance-and-bad-government.

For Additional Reading

John P. Sullivan, José de Arimatéia da Cruz, and Robert J. Bunker, “Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 37: Rio de Janeiro Gang and Militia Extortion and Control of Telecommunications Towers.” Small Wars Journal, 28 May 2021.

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

Robert J. Bunker, José de Arimatéia da Cruz and John P. Sullivan, “Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 19: Comando Classe A (CCA) Massacre of Comando Vermelho (CV) Gang Members in Altamira Prison, Brazil—58 Dead (Including 16 Decapitations).” Small Wars Journal. 6 August 2019.

 

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 a Research Fellow of the Brazil Research Unit at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington, DC.

Dr. 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.