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Sixth Commandment | Death Squads of Goiás

Attorney David Sebba Ramalho was executed in the parking lot of a supermarket by a military police intelligence team, having just returned from visiting his pregnant wife. His son would be born 14 minutes after his murder. These sorts of cases create public revulsion and a sense of insecurity. –Zé Dirceu


Workers’ Party (PT) leader Zé Dirceu — an assiduous political blogger as well as the principal defendant in the «big monthly allowance» case — claims that governors and mayors of the rival Social Democrats (PSDB) have failed to rein in police violence, corruption and criminality in recent years.

This is not the same as arguing, based on reliable statistics, that governors from Dirceu’s party have succeeded in doing so. The same goes for Dirceu’s attempt to link the death squad case — known as Operation Sixth Commandment and dating to February 2011 — to the current scandal involving the governor of Goiás, known as Operation Monte Carlo and focused on an extremely influential numbers racketeer.

Still, two facts continue to impress, with regard to S. Paulo, at least: that fatal police violence has failed to decline in step with the decline in homicides, and that 30 of 31 subprefectures of the city of S. Paulo are occupied by ranking military police officers, mostly colonels.

The subprefects are appointed, not voted on. PDT mayoral candidate Paulinho da Força is calling for elections to these offices.


Mauro Rubem is a comrade, a member of the PT national board and a state lawmaker in Goiás, where he presides over the human rights committee.

Mauro Rubem’s work with the committee has called attention to death squads organized by state military polices and called for punishment of troopers involved in the federal police, in which several PM senior officers were arrested but were later released without due process.

At the time of these arrests, in 2011, and because of his activism, Mauro Rubem received threats against his life, the lives of his aides, and the lives of other officials, threats aimed at intimidating him and preventing him from acting.

As a result of these threats, important human rights activists, such as Father Geraldo Labarrére and Sister Ana Vicenzait, were obliged to move to another state. In the interim, new cases of disappearances involving police arose — some 36 cases in all.

The issue has flared up again recently because of Operation Monte Carlo, the subsequent parliamentary commission of inquiry (CPI) into numbers racketeer «Charlie Waterfall», and the work of our comrade Mauro Rubem in the state assembly.

The PSDB state government, led by Marconi Perillo, backs and defends this approach to public safety. This government effectively washed its hands of Operation Sixth Commandment and ignores the fact that Monte Carlos led to the arrest of numerous police and to suspicions against the governor himself, whose involvement with Charley Waterfall is common knowledge.

Again, nothing has surfaced in press coverage to suggest a link between the two cases, although jogo de bicho has historically gone hand in hand with hit squads in other cases, such as Mato Grosso’s João Arcanjo “O Comendador” Ribeiro — the subject of Operation Noah’s Ark in 2002.

The Comendador had begun his career as a corrupt state judicial police officer and muscle for the bicho bankers of Mato Grosso do Sul, expanding the business into the state’s northern neighbor of Mato Grosso.

A few years back, when a top aide to the state judicial police chief of Rio de Janeiro was assassinated, he was discovered to be a leading figure in the caça-níquel — one-armed bandit —  business and the militia movement.

The Estadão fills in some of the background on Sixth Commandment.

Investigations began in 2010. Federal police say the criminal organization was habitually homicidal. Among its victims were children, teens and women with no criminal background. The feds also say that investigation shows military police carrying out executions while on duty, using police vehicles for these and other activities not connected with official duties.

Among those investigated are the second in command of the PM Goiás, a former state secretary of public safety, and the former state treasurer of Goiás, suspect of influence peddling in the promotion of members of the death squad. Federal police say these crimes go back ten years or more.

The feds and the state secretary of public safety are beginning a search for persons who  disappeared after being approached by police and have created a special tip line for the public to send in information. Anonymity is guaranteed. The e–mail address is denuncia.srgo@dpf.gov.br.

There should be a phone number, too … but not a Twitter #hashtag, please