Source: Blog do Ricardo Gama | Folha de S. Paulo
On Friday nights, two motorcycles without plates cruise the streets of Guaratiba, Western Zone, Rio, demanding money from small business owners.
In at least five spots inside the neighborhood of 110,000, funk dances fueled by drugs are held every weekend. “Nickel hunter” gambling machines are located in warehouses or false bathrooms in the bars. Residents avoid commenting on the situation, and the business owners are afraid.
It is in this region that the Archdioscese of Rio plans to host up to 2 million persons on July 28, when the Pope celebrates his first mass in Brazil, a high point of World Youth Day. The pope will also take part in an event on Copacabana. Beach
Guaratiba is dominated by the largest militia in Rio. It is the militia, for example, that decides when businesses open and close. Once known as the League of Justice, the group is known now as ” Toni’s militia”, after its current leader, former military policeman Toni Souza de Aguiar, 38.
Toni is currently wanted on 11 arrest warrants, with charges ranging from murder to racketeering.
To guarantee the safety of the pilgrims, a major operation is being set up to control the region. Some 2,600 Army troops will occupy Guaratiba for 15 daybefore the event.
Since last year, the Army intelligence service has been running risk assessments on potential threats to the success of the event.
The model to be applied is similar to the role troops played in the Alemão complex starting in 2010.
Another 3,400 soldiers can be used in case General José Alberto da Costa Abreu, security coordinator of the operation, requests them.
“It is important to avoid interactions of this group [the militia] with the young people. They project a false sense of affability, but they make their living threatening other people’s lives,” said military prosecutor Jorge Melgaço.
“The militia tend to shy away from confrontation. They are discreet. This is why we focus so much attention [on them],” says federal police agent Victor Cesar Santos,, Rio coordinator for the National Secretary of Large Events.
As to reports from several sources that local militia were used by owners of the Guaratiba subdivision to evict area residents, nothing yet.
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