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Rio | Fresh Arrests in Justice League Case




This is a story I have tried to follow closely over the years, as a prime example of “parapolitics” — paramillitary groups menacing a captive community in order to promote its candidates — in this case, a state legislator and a city councilmember.


Rent Elite Squad 2 — the film deals very directly with the topic.

Eleven persons accused of membership in the League of Justice militia, the largest militia in Rio, were arrested on Thursday during Operation Pandora II, a joint operation of the state secretary of public safety and the state prosecutor. Police also served 30 search warrants.

Some R$ 30,000 in cash was seized, along with a truck containing what may be adulterated fuel, three firearms, five imported vehicles, and a large supply of ammunition, documents and computers. A black-market cable TV center, known as a gatonet, with 5,000 subscribers, was shut down.

The group is accused of forming an armed gang, loan sharking, and extortion. It is calculated that illegal activities yielded the gang R$ 500,000 per month.

Motorcycle taxi bearing the official trademark of the Justice League.

Motorcycle taxi bearing the official trademark of the Justice League.

Among those arrested was the evangelical pastor  Dijanio Aires Diniz, 39.  Police official Alexandre Capote of DRACO — the anti-organized crime division — said the pastor used his church in Campo Grande, in the Western Zone, as an office for loan sharking. He would lend money  to anyone, but mainly to his flock, and then charge extortionate interest of up to 60% per month. When a payment was past due,the pastor personally delivered the death threat.

The investigation, which lasted one year, also discovered that the militia has begun to explore a new business: the sale of adulterated fuel.também  After they adulterate the fuel, they obtain forged inspection stickers and used falsified receipts to give the business the appearance of legality. For this reason, we believe that gas stations that resold this product were acting in good faith, said Capote.

Capote said that the gang also earned money charging residents, van services, and small businesse a “security tax.” It established a monopoly over the supply of bottled cooking gas in the area and operated “nickel-hunter” gambling machines..

Two others ordered arrested by the court remain at large: André Marcelo Botti de Andrade and Cléber Oliveira da Silva.

Along with the pastor, police arrested ex-PM José Luiz Cordeiro Cavalcante da Silva, aka Bolt; José Ribamar Gomes Passos; Elber Meireles Pessanha; Aline Barbosa da Silva; Antônio Claudino Ribeiro Blanco; Rhuan Claudius Martins Blanco; and Leandro José de Freitas da Silva.

Another three men who have been in jail since  May were ordered arrested:  ex-PM Carlos Henrique Garcia Ramos; Luciano Alves da Silva; and Célio Alves Palmas Júnior.

Assistant chief of the state judicial police, Fernando Veloso, said that new operations will be conducted in an attempt to arrest the ex-PM Toni Angelo de Souza Aguiar, accused of running the organization from his prison cell, as well as ex-PM Ricardo Teixeira da Cruz, aka Batman. Toni Angelo faces 11 arrest warrants.