Brazil’s ‘Friends’ Gang Show their Muscle in Olympic Pool: Police

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A photo has emerged of suspected members of Rio’s Amigos dos Amigos gang sporting weapons in a swimming pool set to be used in the 2016 Olympic Games, providing an indication of the security challenge criminal groups pose to major public events in Brazil.

The photo (pictured) shows men armed with three assault rifles posing in a swimming pool in the Felix Mielli Venerando Olympic Village in northern Rio de Janeiro’s Honorio Gurgel neighborhood. According to Folha, the image — along with several others in which gang members show off weapons in Rio neighborhoods — was posted on Facebook and subsequently acquired by police. 

Police discovered the break-in at the venue in mid-October, reported Folha

According to police, the men in the photo belonged to a faction of Amigos dos Amigos (Friends of Friends – ADA) led by Celso Pinheiro Pimenta, alias “Playboy.”

In a communication intercepted by police, Pinheiro Pimenta stated: “I loved the pool, man. What a complex, it’s all ours.”

Authorities said security had since been heightened in the complex, which was built for the 2016 Summer Olympics, reported the International Business Times.

InSight Crime Analysis

While the incident appears to be little more than a few armed men showing off their shiny weapons, it is a reminder that Brazil’s major gangs have the capacity to cause havoc at events like the Olympics. 

In the run-up to the recent 2014 World Cup, rising gang attacks on police in Rio led to claims these groups were attempting to “sabotage” the event, while the First Capital Command (PCC) gang of São Paulo threatened a “World Cup of Terror.” Meanwhile, Southern Pulse pointed to the potential for a smaller gang — the First Catarinense Group — to expand its operations outside Brazil’s biggest urban centers while security attention was focused on Rio and São Paulo.

SEE ALSO: Amigos dos Amigos Profile 

ADA is one of Rio’s top drug gangs, and disputes territory with its progenitor, the Red Command (CV), and another splinter gang, the Pure Third Command (TCP). While the ADA has faced challenges from Rio’s “pacification” program, it appears to be retaking control of key parts of the city, such as Rocinha — the biggest favela — and flexing its muscle against the other gangs. In the lead-up to the October 5 presidential elections, police attributed violence in the Mare favela complex to Playboy looking to take back areas from the Pure Third Command. Insecurity caused by these gangs forced President Dilma Rousseff and the Rio state governor to abandon Mare during a public event in September. 

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