By David Amoruso for Gangsters Inc.
Brazil is known for its sunny beaches and swinging carnival, but it has a dark side as well. Crime is on the rise and in the poorer neighborhoods, known as favellas, gangs are in complete control. If police enter they better come armed or not at all. This situation has resulted in countless deadly shootouts between cops and gangsters. Including one last week, which cost the lives of 14 people, including the life of a notorious gang leader.
On Thursday, March 23, police raided the favella of Complexo do Salgueiro in São Gonçalo, a city 25 kilometers from Rio de Janeiro. The operation targeted the Comando Vermelho, known in English as Red Command, one of Brazil’s biggest gangs. It’s involved in robberies, extortion, prostitution, drug trafficking, and any other crime that offers riches to the group’s bosses, known as donos.
Dono Leo 41
One of those bosses was 37-year-old Leonardo Costa Araújo (right). Nicknamed “Leo 41,” he led the gang’s branch in Pará, a state in the north of Brazil. Authorities allege he was responsible for the death of over 40 police officers there since 2021.
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He had been a fugitive since 2019 and reportedly had moved from Pará to Rio de Janeiro where he was coordinating the gang’s expansion. He ran drug trafficking, extortion, kidnappings, and theft to finance the purchase of guns.
This week over 80 police officers arrived in his favella in five armored cars and two helicopters. His underlings put up a fierce resistance, but the cops were well-prepared. They expected the gang to be trained in military and guerilla tactics.
Cops and gangsters fought several gun battles on the streets. Thirteen people were killed as a result.
Among the dead was the group’s leader Leonardo Costa Araújo.
Two women were injured. One man was shot and had his leg amputated in the hospital, a spokesperson later told the media.
Two people were arrested and a large quantity of guns was seized.
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