Authorities in Brazil have arrested two alleged top weapons and drug providers for Rio de Janeiro’s notorious Red Command, potentially disrupting transnational supply lines for the powerful group as it faces security force pressure in one of its strongholds.
Ricardo dos Santos Silva, alias “Tubarão” (Shark), was arrested on April 7 in western Rio de Janeiro, reported Estadão. According to Rio’s 33rd Police Precinct, Silva smuggled drugs from Brazil’s southern border cities of Ponta Pora and Foz do Iguacu into Rio favelas and areas surrounding the city, and was the largest supplier of drugs and weapons for the Red Command (Comando Vermelho).
Another drug trafficker, Sidnei da Silva Araujo, alias “Mangustão,” was arrested on the same day, with falsified identity documents on his person. Da Silva is touted as the principal distributor of drugs and weapons in the slums of Nova Holanda and Parque União in the Complexo da Mare — a sprawling set of favelas in northern Rio largely controlled by the Red Command — and allegedly brought drugs up from Paraguay.
Around the time of the arrests, members of the armed forces were attacked by criminals in Complexo da Mare, shortly after they occupied the complex on April 5 as part of the city’s slum pacification program, reported G1 Globo.
The attacks occurred at at least five different points, with shots fired at soldiers patrolling the streets, following demonstrations to protest the pacification attempt.
InSight Crime Analysis
The arrests of the two traffickers shines light on the supply routes for the drugs and arms the Red Command needs for control and profit in Rio’s favelas. Police reports suggest both men trafficked contraband originating in Paraguay, a key transit country for drugs and arms moving into Brazil, and one where the Red Command has reportedly established a presence.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of the Red Command
If it is true that the two men were among the gang’s major drugs and arms suppliers, then their arrests would mark a significant setback for the Red Command, at a time when the group is simultaneously threatened by the militarization of favelas under its control.
However, the attacks against security forces in Complexo da Mare, which has been a key base for the Red Command’s operations, could be the latest indication that the gang is prepared to challenge attempts to break their hold on the favelas, in order to preserve its illegal enterprises.