Criminal Gangs & Militias in Rio de Janeiro: A 12-Month Outlook


    Rio de Janeiro has for decades been a hub of criminal gangs that have extensive transnational links. More recently, militias have become incredibly influential, both territorially and politically. These militias, originally intended to address gangs, now work hand in hand with them, extorting businesses, individuals, and trafficking contraband. Militias have direct links to police and politicians, many of whom, including recent President Jair Bolsonaro, express overt support for them. Confrontations between gangs, militias, and police in 2021 left at least 4,000 thousand dead across Rio. With the support of businessmen, militias run comprehensive illicit economies in the regions they control, and pose a significant threat to domestic and foreign businesses and investment.

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    Ethan Sanderson
    Ethan Sanderson
    Ethan is a recent MA graduate of Conflict, Security, and Development from King's College London that specialises in armed groups, terrorism, and the security/development nexus. He also holds a degree in International Affairs and Doing Business in Emerging Markets from Northeastern University, and has lived and worked in the USA, United Kingdom, and Chile.

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