On 8 January, an article in Insight Crime says that, as part of a mounting campaign going after criminal finances, police in Rio de Janeiro have asked courts to seize control of legal businesses used by militia groups to launder money. Last October, police shut down 8 pharmacies across Rio de Janeiro for allegedly being used as money laundering fronts but, it says, pharmacies are just the tip of the money laundering iceberg, as over the last 2 months, police have reportedly seized assets worth $150 million from militia groups. Raids across dozens of cities had also sought to dismantle the finances of Brazil’s largest criminal gangs. However, it does warn that militias — often made up of current and former soldiers, police and firefighters — have developed complex criminal economies throughout the city, such is their level of control, and they face few restrictions since the militias often find willing partners to collaborate within legal business sectors – it being said that warehouses and logistics companies like having the militia around to prevent cargo theft. It cites the example of militia boss, Wellington da Silva Braga, Rio’s most-wanted man and facing charges in 9 different cases, who reportedly travels around the city with his own security escort, lives in luxury houses and frequently interacts with police officers and drug traffickers alike.
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