Government promotes Federal Police reshuffle

bolsonaro Federal Police reshuffle
Márcio Nunes will be Brazil’s new Federal Police Chief. Photo: Tom Costa / MJSP

Justice Minister Anderson Torres announced on Thursday that he has selected his deputy, Márcio Nunes, to be Brazil’s new Federal Police Chief. Paulo Maiurino leaves the post after almost a year in order to take over the National Drug Enforcement Secretariat.

Mr. Maiurino is very close to President Jair Bolsonaro, and his appointment to oversee drug policies suggests the government may be planning to double down on its tough-on-crime rhetoric ahead of the election. One of Mr. Bolsonaro’s campaign talking points to badmouth former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the presidential frontrunner, is to say that his center-left Workers’ Party wants to legalize drug use in Brazil. The president has gloated about a rise in the number of federal operations by 34 percent since he took office — with many of them targeting drug gangs.

Mr. Nunes will become the fourth Federal Police Chief under Jair Bolsonaro. He joined the force in 2002 and was superintendent of the Federal Police regional Brasília bureau between 2018 and 2021.

Previous changes were tumultuous. One, in April 2020, culminated with the resignation of then-Justice Minister Sergio Moro  — who accused Mr. Bolsonaro of interfering with police work to shield his allies from federal probes.

After Mr. Moro left the administration, Mr. Bolsonaro tried to appoint a friend of his sons to lead the Feds, but the move was barred by the Supreme Court.

This latest reshuffle happens as President Bolsonaro faces a federal investigation for leaking sealed information regarding a probe into cyberattacks against electoral courts during the 2020 municipal elections. The final report states he committed a crime by publishing details of the inquiry on social media, but will not present charges since Mr. Bolsonaro enjoys legal privileges as head of state. The Federal Prosecution Office, however, sided with the president.