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RIo | «Eleven Jailed in Militia Case»

miliciacpi2009

A curious phenomenon is visible on the cable TV screens of Brazil.

As reported earlier in the year by ANCINE, cable operators will now be required to meet quotas of nationally produced content on their channels, much of which consist mainly of dubbed or subtitled series from Sony, Warner, Universal, Disney, et al.

This works well when my wife and I are watching Futurama, for example, but this is the exception that proves the rule: Brazilians speak Portuguese.

tropelite

The problem is that Brazil lacks the huge back catalog of film history that makes TMC such a must-have subscription.

Net does well to keep a dedicated channel — 66 on our Net box — supplied with homegrown content, mainly short subjects heavily subsidized by the federal Lei do Audiovisual and participants.

The real-life  result of this situation is that certain contemporary Brazilian films are being screened over and over and over and over again, day after day after day after day.

tropa2nascimatias

A case in point are the two Elite Squad films by Fernando Meirelles, director of The Constant Gardener and a sort of homegrown Coppola.

If the first film depicts, even celebrates,  a world in which moral ends justify unspeakable means, the latter — «Elite Squad, the Enemy Within», as reasonably translated by an industrious Wikipedian — tackles the much more insidious world of corrupt police involved in death squads, protection racketeering, black marketeering, arms and drug trafficking and election tampering in a neighborhood modeled after the infamous Rio das Pedras shantytown, about which I have taken pretty copious notes over the years.

Like the Western Zone militias of today, for example, the militiamen of the film assume identities modeled after action comic books.

Art does not resemble life, you might say. But consider the latest revelations about Batman and the League of Justice.

Source: Terra Brasil.

The «Justice League» militia, which operates in the Western Zone of Rio de Janeiro, is betting on two new business activities to supplement revenues from such activities as black-market van services and protection rackets , police say. Along with the sale of adulterated fuel, the gang has reportedly founded a church in the Western Zone neighborhood of Campo Grande.

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Affiliated with the God is Light Pentecostal Church, the congregation is led by pastor Dijanio Aires Diniz, whom police say is a member of the militia group.

Caption | «Baptism by Fire: a list of creative names for police operations»

The church has become a sort of head office for the militia’s financial schemes. It was there, for example, that police discovered the loan-sharking operations of the group. Militia members were making loans at interest rates varying from 30% up to 60%. The church was the location where loans were called in, with victims subjected to threats of violence and death.

“The church has become just another racket for the group. It was founded to pĺay on the religious sentiments of residents, but it serves as a front for loan-sharking,”said judicial police officer Alexandre Capote of DRACO, the organized crime division.

The church’s spiritual leader, Dijanio Aires Diniz, was among  11 suspects arrested during  Operation Pandora 2, whose objective was to repress the criminal activities of the Justice League. In all, 13 arrest warrants were served, along with $30,000 in cash, three firearms, five cars, a fuel truck used to water down gasoline, as well as documents and computer files.

Dijanio has no criminal record and never served as a policeman or fireman, as the majority of militia members have. Nevertheless, he is pointed to as a figure feared by other militia members. “He is highly aggressive, there are many stories of how he coerces people, inside the church. He acts like a preacher, a man of God, but he is in fact a dangerous element,”Capote explained.

On his Facebook page, Dijanio identifies himself as a bishop, along with a number of photographs taken during services in his church. In one of these photos, he appears beside federal congressmember Rodrigo Maia (DEM-RJ) and state legislator Clarissa Garotinho (PR-RJ).

Rodrigo is the son of former Rio mayor César Maia, known for his “lesser of two evils” support for militias and for benefiting politically from militia-run political machines.

The two politicians both ran for mayor in the past election: Rodrigo of the DEM headed the slate with Clarissa as his vice-mayor. The photo was posted on September 15, 2012.

Clarissa Garotinho denies knowing the pastor, saying that she accompanied Maia during the campaign in order to present anti-crack policies.

“This meeting was set up by a Campo Grande teacher involved with the DEM at the request of a pastor named Roberto, who said he was part of an association of Christian ministers. “We were in Campo Grande, and the event was scheduled to take place in this church. That was the first and only time I was ever in contact with this person,” Clarissa said, denying as well that she took part in a service held at the church.

Clarissa says she is routinely approached for photographs with common folk, and that demand increases during elections. … “I never imagined I would encounter a bishop who was a militia member,” she said.

Former military police trooper José Luis Cordeiro Cavalcante da Silva, known as Bolt, was the pastor’s right hand man and has shown signs of fearing his boss. Bolt told other militia members that he was under increasing pressure to collect on certain loans. Bolt was afraid the pastor would have him killed for his poor performance as a collector.

It was inside the church that Dijanio violently threatened a man who had borrowed R$ 50,000 and not paid up as agreed. The client went to the church to tell the pastor that he was having difficulties and that his payment would be late. He had given the pastor 12 checks worth R$5,000 each, along with monthly cash payments of R$ 2,500 representing interest.

Draco is investigating a murder allegedly committed by the League of Justice in an another effort to collect a debt. In all, the League of Justice takes in a total of R$500,000 a month from its various schemes.

Around US$ 3 million a year.

The Draco investigation, Pandora 2, began about a year ago, and follows up on the original Operation Pandora, which indicted 17 persons related to the League of Justice in September 2012.

The group was led by the brothers Natalino and Jerominho Guimarães, both currently in a Mato Grosso prison, who when arrested were elected  state and city legislators.

With the arrest of the brothers, leadership was assumed by former PM Toni Ângelo, nicknamed «Erotic » for his many romantic conquests. He had been expelled from the military police in 2009 after he was caught along with two militia members  carrying a weapon in the parking lot of a Campo Grande mall. According to a ranking judicial police official, the arrest and imprisonment of Toni Erotic is a high priority and will take place soon.

“We have had several opportunites to arrest him in recent months, but cancelled the operation because of the risk of violent confrontation. I aborted the raid because there was a risk of collateral damage to bystanders,” he said.

Veloso says the present of militia groups “complicates things” in the Western Zone, but argues that these groups are losing their influence with every operation targeting them.

“Every time we mount a new operations, they take a beating. Some  try to reorganize, and others assume leadership roles. The state affords top priority to taking down this gang. …”