In Brazil it is not unusual to use the army to back up law enforcement .
For example the Brazilian Army’s (EB) Military Command of the Amazon (CMA) intensified patrols back in March and April in the Javari Valley, in the Amazon region that borders Peru, as part of Operation Jacuixito, which goal was to strengthen EB’s presence in the region to prevent and combat cross-border and environmental crimes, such as mining, drug and arms trafficking, and timber extraction.
The operation was successful enough, according to information from EB’s blog Agência Verde Oliva, each rig destroyed was valued at some $121,000 and was capable of extracting about 2.5 kilograms of gold per month, yielding more than $161,000 on the illegal market. The exhaustive patrols carried out during Operation Jacuixito caused a loss to illegal mining of about $1,4 million in a single month.
Now Brazil’s President Silva has announced last week that he has signed a decree sending armed forces to strengthen security at the South American’s country’s most important airports, ports and international border crossing points as part of an increased effort to block smuggling of goods and people by criminal gangs.
This order comes just days after members of a gang set fire to dozens of city buses in Rio de Janeiro, apparently in retaliation for the police killing a family member of a gangster.
“We have reached a very serious situation,” Lula said at a news conference in Brasilia after signing the decree. “So we have made the decision to have the federal government participate actively, with all its potential, to help state governments, and Brazil itself, to get rid of organized crime.”
Brazil will mobilize 3,600 members of the army, navy and air force to increase patrols and monitor the international airports in Rio and Sao Paulo, as well as two maritime ports in Rio and Sao Paulo’s Santos port, the busiest in Latin America — and a major export hub for cocaine.
The deployment is part of a government’s broader plan that includes increasing the number of federal police forces in Rio, improving cooperation between law enforcement entities and boosting investment in state-of-the-art technology for intelligence gathering.
State and federal authorities have said in recent weeks they want to “suffocate” militias by going after their financial resources.
Rio’s public security problems go back decades, and any federal crackdown on organized crime needs to be supported by a far-reaching plan, the fruits of which might only be seen years from now, according to Rafael Alcadipani, a public security analyst and professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a university in Sao Paulo.
“The federal government is being rushed into this due to previous lack of action,” said Alcadipani. “The government is trying, but the chance of this not working is huge … This is an emergency plan, something being done last minute as though it were a problem that arose just now, but it isn’t.”
Brazil’s Justice Minister Flávio Dino said the measures announced Wednesday are part of a plan being developed since Lula took office on Jan. 1, and the result of months of consultations with police forces, local officials and public security experts.
The latest wave of unrest in Rio began on Oct. 5th, when assassins killed three doctors in a beachside bar, mistaking one of them for a member of a militia.
The city’s powerful militias emerged in the 1990s and were originally made up mainly of former police officers, firefighters and military men who wanted to combat lawlessness in their neighborhoods. They charged residents for protection and other services, but more recently moved into drug trafficking themselves.
There has since been increased pressure for the state and federal governments in Brazil to come up with a plan and demonstrate they have a handle on public security in the postcard city.
On Oct. 9th, days after the doctors were killed, Rio state government deployed hundreds of police officers to three of the city’s sprawling, low-income neighborhoods.
And on Oct. 23rd, Rio’s police killed Matheus da Silva Rezende, known as Faustão, nephew of a militia’s leader and a member himself. In a clear show of defiance, criminals went about setting fire to at least 35 buses.
On Wednesday, federal police in Rio said it had arrested another militia leader and key militia members in Rio das Pedras and Barra da Tijuca, both in Rio state.
They also confiscated several luxury bulletproof cars, a house, and cash.
The United States department of state regards Brazil as a rather dangerous place for its citizens to travel to and advises visitors to avoid favelas, any areas within 100 miles of Brazil’s land borders, travel on public buses, especially at night, and to be aware of the possible danger of having drinks spiked with sedative drugs.
Source: VOA, DialogoAmericas.com