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Rio | Beginning of the End for Black Market Taxes?

Judicial Police in action against militia members

Judicial Police in action against militia members, November 2009

G1 reports on the sensational feat  of locking up dozens of military police for organizing themselves into what amount to militia groups — protection racketeering, mostly.

Agents from the Sub-Secretariat of Intelligence of the state security secretariat and the internal affairs agency of the military police, in coordination with GAECO, the state prosecutor’s special organized crime task force, last night began an operation designed to arrest a gang of criminals — most of the military police — who were extorting street merchants and informal van services in Bangu, in the Western Zone, and neighboring areas.

Of the 78 persons charged by the state prosecutor, 59 are policement: 53 from the military police and six from the state judicial police. The policemen involved worked out of different units: the 14 Miltary Police Battalion (BPM)(Bangu), the 9th BPM (Rocha Miranda), the 31st DP (Bangu) and officers assigned to the task force on crimes against intellectual property, designed to combat street vendors.

All were remanded to custody as the judge also issued further search warrants ifor the homes and workplaces of the men involved. The men are accused of criminal conspiracy, extortion and robbery.

The investigations, which included the use of court-approved telephone wiretaps, indicate that the group collected a surtax in exchange for permitting the sale of pirated merchandise and the operation of mototaxis in the area. In denouncing the case, Gaeco prosecutors say that the scheme demanded R$ 70 a week, payable in two installments, paid on Wednesdays and Thursdays, The money was divided up among members of the conspiracy.

On Saturdays and Sundays, each street vendor would pay R$ 5. This money was used to pay off policemen who work the military police outpost on the Calçadão de Bangu, one of the busiest business districts in the city.

Group also committed robberies

Rather than being sent to the legislative police station, pirated goods were misappropriated by the police, who supplemented their income through the resale of pirated goods.

The investigation also shows on July 26, 2012, two armed, on-duty policemen, threatening two itinerant vendors and in the process stealing shirts and shorts work R$ 4,000 belonging to one of the men. The other vendor had pirated CDs and DVDs stolen. The MP-RJ said the robbery took place because the street vendores did not pay the weekly sum demaned.

The principal criminal activity of the gang took place during open-air markets in Ari Franco, Cônego Vasconcelos, and Marechal Marciano Streets, in Bangu. Some of the group also operated along Jurubaíba and Américo Rocha Streets, in the Honório Gurgel suburb of Rio.

Caught in the act on video

In an interview with Rádio CBN this morning (30 April 2013), the subsecretary of intelligence said that video had been recorded that showed police committing a crime.

“In these videos, you see the extortion of merchants by armed military police in street clothes as they stroll through the street market collecting money, then turn the money over to the police outpost located at the Bangu market where it would be distributed by patrol cars. It’s all documented there,” said Fábio Galvão, adding that the complete case will involve nearly 400 policiais.