At least 14 current and former policemen were arrested in Rio de Janeiro in an operation aimed at taking down a militia group, including high ranking officers accused of leading the organization.
The group was active in west Rio, and was allegedly led by a retired Federal Police chief, a Civil Police commissioner, and a military policeman.
Reports vary on the number arrested, with some sources saying 14 and some 17.
The group has reportedly been operating since 1998, and would make some 200,000 reales a month ($125,000), including charging residents 35 reales a month in protection money. They were also allegedly involved in providing bootleg services, such as Internet and cooking gas, and loan sharking.
“The gang had a structure similar to a company, with well-defined roles,” according to Alexandre Capote, head of the state police’s organized crime unit (Draco).
As InSight Crime has noted, many of Rio’s militias began as anti-crime vigilante groups, but developed into gangs responsible for much of the city’s violence.