How armed militias became part of Rio’s everyday life

rio de janeiro armed militias violence

Armed militias operate in true mafia style. Photo: ABr

It seems ludicrous now, but urban armed militias were once well-regarded in Rio de Janeiro. Originally, these groups were a kind of security patrol unit acting against drug traffickers – and were formed by police officers, firefighters, and prison guards. Even the authorities supported them as a way to fill a void left by the state in gang-dominated favelas.

Some politicians went further, and even headed into armed militias themselves.

The largest militia in Rio de Janeiro was sponsored by a former state congressman and a former Rio city councilor. This group was known as the “Justice League,” and was created back in the 1990s by two former police officers, Aldemar Almeida dos Santos and Ricardo Teixeira Cruz, a.k.a. Batman and Robin.

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About the author

Raphael Tsavkko Garcia

Journalist and researcher at the Ph.D. program in Human Rights of University of Deusto, Spain.