A recent string of militia-linked murders in Brazil is sparking increased public discussion about the widespread presence and power of these criminal groups, which in spite of their long history and current expansion remain shrouded in mystery and relatively untouched by security operations.
On April 16 — one month after the high-profile assassination of Rio de Janeiro councilwoman Marielle Franco and her driver Anderson Gomes — the city’s Security Minister Raul Jungmann publicly confirmed that the “most probable hypothesis” under investigation is that militias were responsible for the murders.
Rio’s militias are paramilitary-style groups rooted in a nationwide tradition of death squads that grew up in the era of the brutal military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from the 1960s to the 1980s. They are typically composed of former and current security force members that use violence and coercion to assert control over typically disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Many of these groups enjoyed…
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