Drug cartels are recruiting people of less than 12 years old

Under federal intervention since March 2018, Rio de Janeiro has been riddled with violence and organized crime. According to the NGO Public Safety Institute, the state of Rio de Janeiro registered 40 violent deaths for every 100,000 inhabitants in 2017 – a hike of 7.4 percent from 2016. In the state capital, 70 percent of residents want to leave the city to escape violence.

In order to dismantle the powerful drugs gangs, it is first necessary to understand how they work. And a study by the NGO Observatório de Favelas (Favela Observatory) tries to help in that regard. The organization, based in Maré, a complex of multiple favelas, published a survey analyzing the profile and the behavior of youngsters who work for criminal organizations – and suggests a set of policies to fight organized crime.

Created in Rio de Janeiro 17 years ago, the NGO focuses on social issues related to violence, as well as the relationship between the state and peripheral communities. In partnership with Open Society, Observatório de Favelas has conducted 261 interviews with people involved in drug trafficking activities in Rio de Janeiro, in other to sketch the typical profile of gang members – as well as figuring out what lures them into crime.

One-hundred-fifty interviews were conducted in favelas, while the rest were carried out in a facility for minors who have been convicted of crimes. We broke down the researchers’ main findings:

</span></p> <h2>Young, black, uneducated</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The typical profile of gang members has historically been formed by young black men, born into big families &#8211; usually led by a woman &#8211; of lower income, who dropped out of school and had experiences with precarious jobs before getting into crime. Some characteristics, though, have been changing recently.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">More and more kids under 12 years old have joined drug cartels &#8211; the rate doubled from 6.5 percent in 2006 to 13 percent in 2017. That draws attention, especially in a time when conservative sectors in Brazil want to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16 years old.</span></p> <hr /> <p><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-6732" src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-zrHNJ-1024x321.png" alt="Who are the people working for drug cartels in Rio? organized crime murder rio de janeiro" width="1024" height="321" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-zrHNJ-1024x321.png 1024w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-zrHNJ-300x94.png 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-zrHNJ-768x241.png 768w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-zrHNJ-610x191.png 610w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-zrHNJ.png 1200w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /></p> <hr /> <p><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-6731" src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-RFrwV-1024x362.png" alt="Who are the people working for drug cartels in Rio? organized crime murder rio de janeiro" width="1024" height="362" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-RFrwV-1024x362.png 1024w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-RFrwV-300x106.png 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-RFrwV-768x271.png 768w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-RFrwV-610x216.png 610w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-RFrwV.png 1200w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /></p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The number of Evangelical Christians has also risen, as well as those still living with their mother. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Meanwhile, 21 percent of the people surveyed are in gangs with their siblings. &#8220;These results reinforce the necessity to develop preventive policies focused on children and adolescents, taking into consideration how vulnerable these families are,&#8221; said Raquel Willadino, one of the coordinators of the study.</span></p> <h2>Family-oriented gang members</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In previous surveys, researchers had found out that the possibility of attracting several women was an important motivation for young men to join drug cartels. But womanizing no longer has the same power over the majority, who are in stable relationships with a spouse (37 percent) or a girlfriend/boyfriend (33 percent).</span></p> <hr /> <p><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-6733" src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-NCW7C-1024x649.png" alt="Who are the people working for drug cartels in Rio? organized crime murder rio de janeiro" width="1024" height="649" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-NCW7C-1024x649.png 1024w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-NCW7C-300x190.png 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-NCW7C-768x486.png 768w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-NCW7C-610x386.png 610w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-NCW7C.png 1200w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /></p> <hr /> <p><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-6729" src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-Obr54-1024x362.png" alt="Who are the people working for drug cartels in Rio? organized crime murder rio de janeiro" width="1024" height="362" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-Obr54-1024x362.png 1024w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-Obr54-300x106.png 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-Obr54-768x271.png 768w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-Obr54-610x216.png 610w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-Obr54.png 1200w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /></p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Family is a central part of their lives. And the possibility of helping their loved ones by bringing more money to the table is a major pull for them to join drugs gangs. And their close relationships with spouses and children later become a motivation for them to find a way out.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Forty percent of the respondents have left drug trafficking at some point, only to return later. Roughly half of young gang members declared earning a monthly salary between BRL 1,000 and 3,000 while working for drugs gangs &#8211; far more than what they would get in the legal job market.</span></p> <hr /> <p><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-6730" src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-cDw9F-1024x649.png" alt="Who are the people working for drug cartels in Rio? organized crime murder rio de janeiro" width="1024" height="649" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-cDw9F-1024x649.png 1024w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-cDw9F-300x190.png 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-cDw9F-768x486.png 768w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-cDw9F-610x386.png 610w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/export-cDw9F.png 1200w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /></p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">&#8220;It shows that the problem is not that people don&#8217;t want to get out. The challenge, though, is to develop a professional life, capable of supporting their families. As most of them are poorly schooled and are stigmatized for their life choices, they have little to no opportunities,&#8221; says Ms. Willadino.

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