Source: Terra Brasil.
[State police] Operation Parasites has arrested 23 sanitation inspectors and business owners involved in a corruption scheme that raised R$ 50 billion per year extorting small businesses in various areas of Rio de Janeiro.
The police action kicked off druing the early morning hours today by the state judicial police (PC), with support from the Secretarat of Public Safety and the sub-secretary of sanitation inspections.
During the morning the police seized R$ 1 million in cash, three firearms, computers and documents. “These numbers should increase in the course of the day, as investigations continue, said Alexandre Capote, of the organized crime division (DRACO).
The scheme has been under investigation since 2010 and inspectors charged R$ 150 to R$ 500 per month in exchange for avoiding inspections. “When an establishment had no problems paying, they invented new ones,” said Rodrigo Leão.
“An entrepreneur spent millions in labor costs on an newly built establishment , but the inspector cited her for problems with the filter on her HVAC. She avoided oversight by paying R$ 400 in bribes each month,” Capote explained .
In the home of one of the inspectors, Luis Carlos Ferreira de Abreu, in Campo Grande, police seized R$ 800,000 in cash. “Smalling of mothballs and bundled using wire, because elastic bands in time will tear the banknote,” explained prosecutor Homero Freitas, assigned to the case.
In the house of the other suspect police found R$120,000 and a check from the city government in the amount of R$ 2,800, his official monthly salary. Homero Freitas says nearly all the parties involved lived in residences not commensurate with their available income. In general, the inspectors worked in pairs in specific areas of the city.
The city health secretary at one part tried to institute a rotation among inspectors in order to make the extortion schemes less practicable, but when a inspector was removed to an area he made a point of introducing the new inspector to victims of the scheme.
“The business owners were are victimized, and six of them collaborated closely with the investigation,”Alexandre Capote.
The scheme also used an insect extermination business and an architecture firm. … The architecture firm, which intermediated in projects subject to city inspectors, accused these establishment of irregularities.
Police are still searching for a man suspected to be one of the leaders of the criminal group, Eduardo de Nigris, a civil servant who occupied a political appointment in the muncipal health secretary and received part of the money collected from the streets. De Nigris is currenly traveling abroad and the PC-SP have already aked the federal police and Interpol to monitor his return.
Prosecutor Homero Freitas says the operation breaks with an older paradign. “Now business owners can denounce corrupt inspectors and be confident that they will see them arrested,” he said.
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