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Rio | Purging the PM


The 15th BPM. Source: Claudio Humberto

This just in from G1.

The 59 military police arrested during Operation Purification, an action intended to crack down on PMs who were doing business with the drug traffic, will be expelled from the force.

Arrested early this morning in various communities in the Baixada Fluminense and upstate Rio, the troopers all worked out of the 15th Police Battalion in Duque de Caixias when the investigations began.

The battalion commander, Lt. Col. Claudio Lucas Lima, was replaced by  Maurício Faria da Silva. The arrests were announced by state military police commander Erir Ribeiro da Costa Filho at a press briefing in downtown Rio.

Imagine it: an entire battalion marching in lock step with the Bolivian marching powder industry.

“This is the second such operation and orders are unequivocal: there will be more to follow. The PM must ensure that corruption is wiped out. We can no longer accept the humiliation caused by the misconduct of certain police agents.

«Certain bad apples»? This is a familiar rhetorical gambit from police PR, but because we have just read that the entire battalion was involved, it rings a little hollow.

«We have a deadline of 15 days, or at most 30, to remove them from the military police.»

This project could face a significant stumbling block regarding jurisdiction: members of the PM are subject only to a parallel system of military justice. And so a venerable tradition of organic impunity is a matter for concern.

In an interview with  RJTV, state public safety secretary José Mariano Beltrame, reinforced the promise that all suspects would be removed from the force. «Based on the totality of the evidence, there is no other course of action than to fire them. Our intention is to make this happen as rapidly as possible. My expectation is that all these people be shown the door. The problem of corruption in Rio is nothing new, it is a historic problem,” said Beltrame.

Beltrame is high on my list of admirable modern Brazilians.

Pursuant to a court order, the imprisoned troopers will be sent to the  Gericinó Prison, in the Western Zone of Rio. The prisoners were moved after photographs of luxurious accommodations at BEP, the military police disciplinary barracks, were circulated.

The investigation was begun by the federal poloice in April 2012 when a corruption scheme involving cops and traffickers came to light.

Each PM squad car received R$2,500 per shift in at least 13  communities in the Baixada.

The operation served 65 arrest warrants and 112 search warrants on suspected corrupt troopers.

The action was supported by the criminal intel bureau of the state public safety secretariat, the state prosecutor’s special operations group, military police internal affairs, and the federal police.

The task force said that PMs did not confine themselves to taking money to look the other way. Evidence is that the PMs also kidnapped criminals and their family members, seized vehicles from the traffickers for ransom, trafficked in arms, and took part in regular police operations when bribes were late or unpaid.

The Rio public prosecutor says that a principal target of the group was the Vai Quem Quer shantytown, but that they also operated in Beira-Mar; Santuário; Santa Clara; Centenário; Parada Angélica; Jardim Gramacho; Jardim Primavera; Corte Oito; Vila Real; Vila Operário; Parque das Missões and Complexo da Mangueirinha.

This areas are new to me.  Most news coverage of police misconduct that make the front pages involve police-run «militias» in Western Zone neighborhoods.

According to SSINTE, PF and CI/PMERJ, the corrupt officers were not organized under a single command; rather, they were divided into 11 autonomous cells.

These cells might have coincided with squad cars, each with a complement of 4 troopers.

Gaeco has indicted the men for armed criminal conspiracy, drug trafficking, possession with intent to distribute, bribe-taking and -paying, and extortion by means of kidnapping.

Let me see what else I can find out.