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RJ: app drivers are lured into fake rides and become hostages of drug militia

At least 20 app drivers were taken hostage and suffered extortion by drug traffickers after being lured into fake rides on the night of Thursday, 30th, on Ilha do Governador, north of Rio de Janeiro. Taken to the interior of the community, in Morro do Dendê, they were threatened and had to make payments in cash or via Pix to the suspects.

According to the Civil Police, the crimes are committed by drug traffickers who have joined forces with militia members, known as narco-militians. The actions of these groups are being investigated by the Public Ministry of Rio (MP-RJ), which has already filed charges against seven suspects.

In a statement to the police, the drivers said that when they arrived at the starting point of the race, they were captured by drug traffickers and taken under threat to the hill. There, they were forced to pay a “security fee” in amounts ranging from R$60 to R$150 in cash, or via Pix.

Drivers who were not from Ilha do Governador had their vehicle license plate written down and were warned that they could not work in the region. If they were caught there, they were also warned that they would suffer a “disgrace”, which, in the language of drug trafficking, means humiliation and aggression in public.

The case is being investigated by the 37th Police Station of Ilha do Governador. In a statement, the Rio Civil Police reported that “investigations are ongoing to identify possible suspects and clarify all the facts.”

The Military Police said that the participation of the population is crucial in combating crimes such as extortion and clandestine exploitation of services. He also said that a partnership with transport application companies allows the use of a direct connection channel for drivers and passengers with the operators of the PM's Operational Control Center for reporting in real time.

Prosecutor requests arrest of seven faction members

On Tuesday, the 28th, the MP announced that he had filed a complaint and requests for preventive detention against seven members of the Tercero Comando Puro (TCP) faction for extorting app, motorcycle and taxi drivers on Ilha do Governador.

According to prosecutor Sauvei Lai, from the 2nd Public Prosecutor's Office for Territorial Criminal Investigation of Ilha do Governador and Bonsucesso, traffickers demanded payment from app drivers, through a serious death threat and the use of firearms.

According to the two complaints presented to the Court, members of the TCP faction control trafficking in the Dendê Community, Pixunas and most communities on Ilha do Governador.

“They expanded their illegal business, organizing themselves as a narco-militia and starting to charge 'fees', through extortion against app, motorcycle taxi and taxi drivers, within the territorial area in which they exercise dominance in the aforementioned neighborhood”, says the note of the MP.

According to the prosecutor's office, to work as drivers in the region, the victims were forced to make weekly payments of R$ 150 and to register with the 'Crime Cooperative' or the 'Extortion Cooperative', created by criminals in the Dendê Community, where payments and registrations of extorted drivers are made.

Traffickers began to require the use of stickers provided by them to identify registered drivers who comply with the criminals' demands.

Five suspects were reported to the 5th Criminal Court, including Mario Henrique Paranhos de Oliveira, known as 'Neves' or 'Nem', identified as the mastermind and responsible for ordering the illicit activities, who is in prison.

Two other suspects were reported to the 35th Criminal Court of Rio. Oliveira was convicted of participating in the massacre that resulted in the death of 12 people, in October 2003. The Court is still analyzing the requests.

According to the prosecutor, the criminals repeat the same modus operandi employed on Ilha do Governador by the TCP faction which, for many years, was commanded by Fernando Gomes de Freitas alias 'Fernandinho Guarabu', and Gilberto Coelho de Oliveira, alias 'Gil', who They were the leaders of drug trafficking in Morro do Dendê and associated themselves with the militiaman Antônio Eugênio de Souza Freitas, known as 'Batoré'.

The three were killed in 2019 during a police operation carried out to detain them, when they resisted arrest.

A former military police officer, 'Batoré' had been sentenced to 317 years in prison for criminal organization, money laundering, extortion, arson and ideological falsehood, according to the Rio Court of Justice.

Other side

The companies 99 and Uber were contacted and until the publication of the report they had not commented. When contacted, Mario Henrique Paranhos de Oliveira's defense did not return. The report was unable to contact defenders who worked in the cases of Fernando Freitas, Gilberto Oliveira and Antônio Freitas, leaving the space open for demonstrations.

Source: CNN Brasil

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