Militia Uses Fear to Profit, Even from Ice Sales on Rio's Beaches

Group coordinated the largest bus attack after the leader's death

As militias become increasingly prevalent in Rio de Janeiro's daily life, they are expanding their operations while occupying more territories. They now profit from monopolized services such as internet and cooking gas, control prostitution, and extort various types of businesses, including the sale of ice on beaches and brooms in the western zone. This week, the militias demonstrated their power by coordinating the largest bus attack in Rio's history. Thirty-five vehicles were set on fire, causing chaos in the city and an estimated loss of at least R$38 million.

This action occurred after the death of one of the leaders of the CL Militia, the largest group in the state. Over the past two months, the report covered approximately 60 neighborhoods and communities encompassing 833 areas listed by the Civil Police as under the influence of militias. During this time, the report spoke with dozens of victims of these criminal groups. This text is the first in the series of reports on the Militias in Rio de Janeiro.

RIO DE JANEIRO, RJ, BRASIL, 24-10-2023: Burnt bus shells at the Jabor company in the western zone of Rio de Janeiro. (Foto: Eduardo Anizelli/Folhapress, COTIDIANO) ORG XMIT: ÔNIBUS QUEIMADO RJ

Formed from a union between former police officers and local politicians, militias began to gain strength in Rio from the early 2000s. During this period, the Justice League, currently the largest group of its kind in the capital, emerged. Initially, they claimed to bring more security to areas controlled by drug trafficking. In practice, however, they resorted to extortion and coercion, forcing residents to pay fees in exchange for protection and access to their services—such as offering gas and transportation.

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