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Fear Factor | The Militias of São Paulo

Rio de Janeiro is not the only Brazilian city dealing with mafia-style protection and black marketeering organizations, but the term milícia is practically never mentioned in the same breath as São Paulo.

In fact, as today’s public safety note makes clear, these groups of current and retired military police enjoy a degree of popular support when it comes to dealing with the threat of violence from other criminal groups, as they once did in Rio.

The following item purports to show a powerful increase in the sense of insecurity and a concomitant willingness to deal with the situation using the jeitinho — a kludge, a hack.

For a ground-breaking story on the militias of S. Paulo, scroll down to the end of the statistical material..

Source: Folha de S.Paulo
By: Mario Cesar Carvalho
Translation: C. Brayton

A policeman who takes part in a death squad outside of working hours should not be punished for killing a criminal, according to 43% of São Paulo residents.

See also: Wave of violence brings down Alckmin approval rating

The datum was part of a Datafolha survey that measured responses to the wave of violence that began in June and intensified in October.

The percentage that believes that this officer should be arrested is 40%, slightly less than those who support police impunity. For 11%, the officer should be fired but not prosecuted.

The survey was conducted on November 22 with the participation of 1,082 São Paulo residents.

Fear of walking the streets at night has doubled in nearly three months.

The survey shows 61% saying they feel very unsafe when walking the streets of their neighborhood at night. Compare this with the results of the DNA Paulistano 2012 survey, published in August, where this index was 26%. In  2008, again acccording to the DNA survey, the number was 20%.

The Northern Zone, a frequent victim of violence, is considered dangerous by 83% of residents — a 34% increase over the DNA 2012 survey.

This number is greater than the statistics for the Eastern and Southern Zone, which are both more violent in fact. The Eastern and Southern Zones are considered dangerous by 82% and 72%, respectively.

Downtown is considered unsafe by  75%. The Western Zone, one of the least violent areas of the city, is considered dangerous by 71%.

Some 44% of city residents say they have heard talk of curfews. In the Northern Zone, this percentage reaches 54%.

According to 34%, criminal factions and bandits are responsible for the wave of violence.

For 17%, the wave of violence is a settling of scores between criminals and police. Only  5% believe the PCC is directing the attacks.

The same percentage say the violence is caused by revenge for the killing of PCC members.

To 18%, the government was responsible for provoking the attacks, whether through negligence or lack of control. Another 18% blame the lack of police infrastructure, low salaries or a lack of strategic planning by police.

Police corruption is also mentioned by 18% of city residents.

The Militias of São Paulo

Source: O Globo

A dispute among groups seeking to impose a toll on one-armed bandit gambling machines may be behind the growing violence in São Paulo.

On one side, there is the criminal faction that dominates the state prisons. On the other, a militia formed by retired, reserve and active duty military and judicial police, created as a death squad and currently engaged in expanding its territory and competing with other criminal factions for control of electronic slot machines and the numbers racket.

The main business of the PCC is the drug trade, which is estimated to yield some R$ 6 million per month. The gambling racket, however, has grown more profitable, and so the monthly bribe has grown from R$ 50 to R$ 400 in less than a year, attracting competition.

The struggle for the gambling rackets was related to O GLOBO by a public official who fears death at the hands of the bandits. The state secretary of public safety, however, says it is unaware that any such militia exists. A high ranking government official, however, confirms that these groups and their ties to recent murders are known to authorities.

The São Paulo city faction dominates large areas of the city periphery. It sells drugs and charges residents for supposed security. The group’s leaders dictate the rules and keep out freelance thieves and drug addicts, who steal to support their habits. Those who disobey are punished. When the faction takes over the neighborhood, it tells everyone that any and all crimes should be reported to the criminal group and not the police. Silence reigns. But since they already offer security to local businesses, some militias have decided that they are owed protection for one-armed bandit gambling machines.

In São Paulo, conventional wisdom is that there are no turf wars because there is room for everyone. The bribe paid to protect ilegal gambling has traditionally been paid to corrupt state judicial police. On the lookout for revenue opportunities, however, the militias may be trying to extract a bribe from gambling operatores in the Paraisópolis shanty town, in Morumbi, which has a reputation as the “supermarket of cocaine” due to its proximity to wealthy cokeheads.

Francisco Antonio Cesário da Silva, aka Piauí, an alleged militia member operating in Paraisópolis, was recently arrested in August Itajaí (SC) …

Gambling is prospering in São Paulo in the last two years as more modern equipment is installed. Instead of the big, old-fashioned machines, which stood out in a crowd, the new machines are the size of a microwave oven, with an LCD screen and highly portable. In most places, the machines only operate starting at 6 p.m., usually inside small businesses. One can even find machines in butcher shopes, according to our anonymous inside source. O valor do jogo varia de R$ 1 a R$ 10. Each machine yields R$ 4,000 to R$16,000 per month.

Our official source said it was difficult to say how involved the militias are in the current violence. There are many rumors, he says. In 2010, a militia group was nearly arrested and charged, but was let go for insufficient evidence.