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...

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