In 2005, the jail for military police officers in Rio de Janeiro welcomed the delivery of the greatest decoration of the State, but the winner was not a guardian but an inmate. An agent accused of murder received the Tiradentes medal – a recognition for providing relevant services to the State – at the proposal of a twenty-something Rio deputy, Flavio Bolsonaro. His father, Jair Bolsonaro, an irrelevant deputy who would become president of Brazil, then attended the decorated prisoner’s trial and even gave him a speech before the plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies. He considered him a brave unjustly persecuted after killing during a raid “an element that, despite being involved in drug trafficking, was considered by the press as a simple valet.”
Adriano Magalhães da Nóbrega was an exceptional policeman and then an exceptional criminal. Body instructor who starred in the movie Elite troop, he became a criminal years ago, after leaving prison in 2006. In 2018 he was interrogated for the murder of Councilwoman Marielle Franco and last Sunday he was killed in a police operation. He was 43 years old.
Suspicion of arch queima It was immediate. This is what the elimination of evidence or witnesses is called in the Brazilian Portuguese. A suspicion that draws a movie ending for a life of horror soap opera. Considered brave and violent by his peers, Captain Adriano embodied the sewers of Rio, according to veteran reporter from Globo Chico Otavio. A dense tangle of murky relations between the police, organized crime and politics behind the facade of spectacular beaches, carnival and caipirinha. “Rio is today like the Chicago of the twenties or the New York of the eighties,” says Jacqueline Muniz, a doctor of Police Studies.
Captain Adriano was one of the most wanted men in Brazil. Although he ran into the law several times, at death he was clean, at least in official records. His criminal record evaporated because he was convicted of murdering the car guard but was later acquitted. It was also not processed in the Marielle case (for which another former military police officer is imprisoned). And although he was suspected of several more murders, the contact he had with the now Senator Flavio Bolsonaro was indirect but recent: until 2018, the son of the Brazilian president employed in his cabinet the mother and the ex-wife of this policeman expelled from the body in 2014 Bolsonaro Sr. said on Saturday that when Flavio proposed him for the medal “he was a hero of the Military Police.”
After the death of Adriano, Flavio Bolsonaro only broke his silence to denounce through Twitter that they were going to incinerate the body of the pillage. A judge avoided cremation.
COMPLAINT! He has just swallowed up to me his conhecimento that has weighed accelerating at the cremation of Adriano da Nóbrega to plunge with the evidence that he was brutally assassinated in Bahia. I ask the competent authorities that impeçam isso e elucidem or that of fato houve.
– Flavio Bolsonaro (@FlavioBolsonaro) February 12, 2020
Captain Adriano had been hiding in the house for less than a day where he was killed by former colleagues. His lawyer says he was nervous, that he was afraid of being killed. It is not known if someone told him they were after him. What is confirmed is that the isolated villa that he used as the last hiding place belongs to a councilman of the party with whom the chief of the Bolsonaro clan won the presidential elections.
For years that quiet policeman, 1.77 tall, muscular, who knew how to ride an AK47 without looking at the instructions, worked for the crime. “He was recruited in the 2000s. And he became head of security for the bicheros (organizers of illegal raffles) of the Garcia family,” explains in a café Otavio, the journalist who, along with a partner, was the first to write about Adriano. “He ascended fast because he was violent and he was not afraid,” he adds. The Rio Prosecutor’s Office accused him a year ago of commanding a band of hired assassins called the Crime Bureau and of leading one of the so-called militias that increasingly dominate more territory – and voters – in the city.
They are bands born in the late seventies when the local underworld, which manages illegal lotteries and slots (also illegal in Brazil), recruited the police who did the dirtiest work of repression in the dictatorship. They came to the neighborhoods offering community security and went on to extort and monopolize basic services such as butane, Internet, cable television or water in drums. In recent years they expanded the business to illegal construction. The big events that culminated in 2016 with the Olympic Games were the breeding ground for its expansion to control half of the city, explains the specialist Muniz, who worked for the Government of Lula.
The Globo reporter explains that Captain Adriano’s most lucrative business in recent times was loans and illegal construction in Piedras Negras, a neighborhood built to house the nannies, gardeners or drivers of the rich neighbors of the urbanizations in the area from Barra de Tijuca, where Bolsonaro have the family chalet. Among its urbanization neighbors was the military police officer accused of firing four shots on the cheek to Councilwoman Marielle Franco from a moving car. His name is Ronnie Lessa, his career is similar to that of Captain Adriano. The reporter says that the skill that the attack required was the reason why the now deceased ended up being questioned about the murder of the councilwoman. The collapse of an illegally constructed building in Piedras Negras killed 24 people last year.
Professor José Claudio Alves, who studied these militia groups three decades ago, conjectures that he was murdered because thanks to his work he knew the network of these groups, because he was more combative than others and because he was a woman. “These groups do not live with any woman who intimidates them.”
Marielle’s death had a huge impact that focused on the criminals who used to be police officers. The interrogations stirred a hornet’s nest. Hence the operation of the Prosecutor’s Office baptized as Los Intocables, which imprisoned a dozen of them, although the most valuable piece, Adriano, managed to flee. “These groups only exist because they have funding, political support and because they control very populated areas in a militarized way,” explains Alves, a professor at the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro. Who dominates the territory, dominates the electorate. That is one of the keys, because in this system the money from illegal businesses is used to finance political campaigns. “It’s the best money, you don’t have to declare it,” says Muniz. That helps to understand how it is that one of those investigated as a possible intellectual author of Marielle’s murder is a carioca councilor in office. A councilor who, ironically, is called Sicilian. His name is Marcelo.
“For many years we have been witnessing a perverse illegal privatization of public security in Rio de Janeiro; the police have not patrolled for a long time, it is an operations police: what it does is move criminals from there, ”says Muniz. “A war is made to raise the price of bribes from the rental of the territory,” he concludes. In order not to be pariahs, the lords of these illegal businesses preside over samba schools that will parade at the carnival before Brazil and the world at the end of the month.
The expert report on the death of Captain Adriano is still unknown. But photos published by the magazine Veja They point to receiving at least one shot at close range. What he knew about the sewers of one of the most beautiful cities in the world took him to the grave. None of the jailed militiamen has opened their mouths. Nor did the accused of liquidating Marielle.