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  • A Brazilian soldier patrols the Vila Alianca favela in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

    A Brazilian soldier patrols the Vila Alianca favela in the city of Rio de Janeiro. | Photo: Reuters

Published 1 September 2018

The public prosecutor's office said the weapons, which included handguns and assault rifles, were possibly sold by a military policeman.

 

Brazil's Organized Crime Fighting Task Action Group, or Gaeco, of the Public Prosecutor's Office of Rio de Janeiro, detained a criminal group Friday responsible for selling firearms and munitions, which are solely issued to federal, state and municipal authorities.

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Members of Rio de Janeiro's Homicide Station of the Baixada Fluminense and the Firearms, Munitions and Explosives Specialized Precinct also participated in the arrests, which were part of the second phase of Operation Web.

The public prosecutor's office said the armaments, which included handguns and assault rifles, were possibly sold by a military policeman who has yet to be identified.

Evidence emerged of the gun sales during the first phase of Operation Web, which was undertaken in July. At the time, a group of arms traffickers who also practiced kidnappings were detained. Investigations revealed that the cellphone of one of the detainees contained information related to the sale of firearms.

Rio de Janeiro has become home to a slew of legally and illegally operating private security firms, the majority of which are controlled by state security officials, as well as militias. The Intercept investigation pointed out, public security agents control one in every four security and surveillance firms based in Rio and the surrounding municipalities. They include renowned judges, politicians, strategic battalions from the military police and others.

As public security worsens, their businesses reap more profits.

At least 162 security firms out of a total of 638 are registered in the name of 188 military, civilian and federal police agents, correctional officers, firefighters, as well as the armed forces, according to The Intercept.

Two Investigative Parliamentary Commissions (CPI) conducted by the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro, also found that between 2005 and 2015, more than 17,000 firearms had been diverted from these private security firms.

“This is worrying because the federal police exhort no control over these companies,” said state congressman and CPI rapporteur, Luiz Martins. “Several have closed, and we don't know the whereabouts of these firearms.

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