Police Accused of Corruption After Photos Surface of Drug Traffickers in Armored Vehicle

Investigators alleged that high ranking members of the ninth police battalion would take bribes from traffickers to provide early warning about operations and police actions.

Armed traffickers pose next to an armored vehicle used by police. (Photo: Police Release)

Armed traffickers pose next to an armored vehicle used by police. (Photo: Police Release)

Nine police from Rio de Janeiro have been charged with providing support to drug traffickers following the discovery of photos of traffickers in armored vehicles belonging to the police.

Investigators accused the police of accepting bribes from drug traffickers and in exchange warning them when operations were to take place in the favela the traffickers controlled.

The case first came to the attention of authorities in 2014 when photos were discovered in which drug traffickers posed in and around armored vehicles used by the Ninth Military Police Battalion. The details were passed on to an internal affairs department and eventually would include the involvement of a special task force targeting organized crime, and Federal police.

Of the nine agents allegedly involved, seven are high ranking officers in the Ninth Battalion. According to chat logs seized by investigators, the accused would also charge lower-ranking members of the department wanting to be transferred out of the unit.

In chat logs released by authorities, Sergeant Flávio Fagundes Padiglione allegedly reassured local drug kingpin Walace de Brito Trindade that officers in the unit would hold up their part of the deal after accepting a payoff. Trindade complained to SGT Padiglione that despite having been paid off Captain Rodrigo Antunes was interfering with their businesses. The logs indicate that SGT Padiglione said he would look into the matter.

Armed traffickers pose next to an armored vehicle used by police. (Photo: Police Release)

Armed traffickers pose next to an armored vehicle used by police. (Photo: Police Release)

Judge Ana Paula Monte Figuiredo Pena Barros accepted the charges against the nine officers and determined that they would be suspended from the police till the end of the trial. Eight will respond for criminal association and passive corruption and one for criminal association to drug traffickers. 

The investigation also determined that eight other agents from the unit “put at risk a police vehicle” by allowing armed traffickers to take pictures with an armored personal carrier during an operation in Largo da Raia on January 12, 2014.

The accused police all belong to the ninth military police battalion which serves the area of Rocha Miranda in the north zone of Rio de Janeiro. In 2014 members of the battalion were charged with dragging a shot suspect behind their police vehicle along the asphalt of a highway for 350m. In 2010 several members of the Ninth Battalion were charged with taking part in the infamous 1993 Vigário Geral massacre in which police entered a community and shot 21 random people in reprisal for the death of a police officer.

Corruption within Rio de Janeiro’s police force has become an endemic problem which has plagued the force for years. Following the economic crisis, the state often failed to pay its officers in full and on time. Many benefits were suspended. Even when paid, a soldier in the force makes about R$3835 ($960.76) a month, a price that drug traffickers can easily match or exceed.