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Bicho + Globo + LIESA = RICO?


Source: O Globo.

RIO — Sunday, as the spotlights fell on the Special Group at the Sambadrome, an operation by state judicial police internal affairs launched 9 days ago found irregularities inside LIESA, the  League of Independent Escolas de Samba.

Entering the office of LIESA president  Jorge Castanheira, police served search and seizure warrants for evidence reflecting the participation of military police officers — among them, majors and colonels — in the provision of internal security for the festivities, contrary to a ruling by the state secretary of public safety.

Among the documents seized during Operation Finger of God II was a spreadsheet listing 37 names of security personnel hired to control access to the passarela in 2012.

At the time, state secretary Beltrame had already issued an order forbidding the involvement of police personnel in this capacity. In defiance of this rule, six colonels, five majors and a captain are listed in the document as security personnel in the employ of  MJC Eventos. The company has a services contract with Liesa and includes reserve colonel Celso Pereira de Oliveira among its partners.

O GLOBO was provided with exclusive access to some of the materials collected from Castanheira’s office. Seized at the location were two laptops, a CPU, a pen drive and a number of documents.

Give My Regards to the Big Turk

The discovery of police personnel moonlighting as Sambadrome security was not the only problem uncovered by the operation.

Among the papers seized was a handwritten letter of two pages, signed by a certain João Luis, which suggests that  the LIESA president is not exclusively busy with organizing the Carnaval parade.

The author says he is involved in a dispute with bicho banker José Caruzzo Escafura, aka Piruinha, and asks Castanheira to intercede on his behalf with bicho banker Antônio Petrus Kalil, aka The Big Turk.

Piurinha and the Rio Police

Piruinha I have heard of only in passing. The federal police union published the following anecdote.

The federal police investigations that resulted in Operation Black Op show that Haylton Carlos Escafura — the son of  José Caruzzo Escafura, a top Rio bicho banker  — relied on the protection of 10 state judicial police patrol cars during a transfer of automobiles belonging to the agency Euro Imported Cars, in Barra de Tijuca, in which he is a partner.

The security scheme was placed at the disposal of the racketeer by a ranking judicial police officer on November 24, 2010, on the eve of the invasion of the Complexo do Alemão. Wiretaps show that  Haylton was afraid that his auto agency would be targeted by rivals in the “nickel-hunter” gambling machine racket.

The intimate ties between Piruinha and state police may explain the fact that Haylton remains at large. He was one of 22 persons ordred arrested by a Federal court in October, when the federals kicked off Black Ops.

GLOBO has had access to excerpts of the wiretaps in which Piruinha’s son discusses the transfer of vehicles with Fábio Dutra Souza, his partner in the business, located on the Avenida Ministro Ivan Lins.

We, The Wise Guys

Returning to the most recent report by O Globo, and the letter leaked to it.

The author of the letter, dated 29 de setembro de 2011, begins by apologizing for pestering the LIESA president, then suggests that  Castanheira is fully aware of the rules imposed by the senior leadership of the bicho rackets of Rio.  “You and the other racketeers, with the exception of José Escafura, who for years now has not respected or enforced the rules of the mafia to which he belongs …”

Bills Were Paid by Bicho Bankers?

This was not the only connection to the bicho racket uncovered by police. During the same operation, police internal affairs, which visited another 13 addresses, discovered seven electricity bills in the name of Castanheira at a bicho operations center belonging to «Captain Guimarães». The discovery suggests that the LIESA president had his bills paid by the Captain.

Sought for comment by GLOBO, Jorge Castanheira denied any involvement with the bicho rackets and said he knows nothing about the letter discovered by police. He also denies that his electricity bills were paid for by “Captain” Guimarães.

— This proceeding is confidential. I have not had access to its content, but the press has. I cannot understand it. I have no ties to the bicho bankers. Today, I am president of LIESA, but for the last 28 years I have worked [as a general assistant]. During those years, I received a degree in economics. I receive hundreds of letters as president of LIESA, but none of them have anything to do with the bicho racket. I have nothing to do with any criminal conspiracy and I don’t know whose electricity bills these are.

Castanheira added that the only electricity bills on which his name appears are related to the offices occupied by LIESA from 1987 to 1995. Regarding the hiring of police to provide security, he said he had asked MJC to give preferential treatment to reserve officers.

Rule Applies to Police Reserves as Well

Despite what Castanheira says, reserve officers of the military police are not exempt from the disciplinary provisions of Decree 6579/83 …  According to this rule, military police must respect the police hierarchy both as current and off-duty or reserve police agents. Thus, Beltrame’s decree applies to retired PMs as well.

The public safety secretary said that it is looking into the irregular provision of services by its personnel during Carnaval. In a note, the department said that since 2008, more than 1,393 state judicial and military police have been expelled by the three internal affairs departments … for various misdeeds.

Finger of God II grew out of an analysis of data obtained during Finger of God I in December 2011. During the second phase, starting on 31 January 2012, the police applied for arrest warrants for bicho bankers Capitão Guimarães and Luiz Pacheco Drumond, aka Luizinho Drumond, both of them former  Liesa presidents.

Their warrant applications were not granted, however.

LIESA, The Untouchable Monopoly

Why not? This is the question that demands an answer when it comes to understanding how for nearly 18 years LIESA has dominated Carnaval in Rio from start to finish, from lighting to ticket sales, from the sound system to every other aspect of the festivities.

Including broadcast rights, which LIESA has ceded to the Globo network despite the best efforts of the state legislature to put an end to its rein.

Bicho + Globo + LIESA = RICO?

I posted a note on that general topic in 2007.

Historically linked to the bicho numbers racket, LIESA has monopolized the organized Carnaval celebration since 1995. Year in and year out, promises of a competitive public auction have failed to pan out.

Rio mayor Eduardo Paes scheduled such an auction on various occasions and succeeded in conducting one for 2010, but the proposal as passed failed to meet certain requirements of the TCM, the city accounting tribunal.

This year, as I noted recently, TCM justices lost their free access to a Sambadrome sky box on the grounds that the justices should not be benefiting from a contract on which they will eventually have to pronounce judgment.

Unlike what the bicho bankers claimed, the terms as stated were not valid; the auction would have to be redone, but there was not enough time left. Thus did Carnaval 2011 fall back into the hands of LIESA.

Last year, alleging lack of competition in the auction for Carnaval 2009, a Rio court froze the assets of former mayor  Cesar Maia, who hired LIESA R$ 5.3 million.

And therein lies another tale.