Drug gangs of Rio de Janeiro are a popular topic for documentaries. You may remember Dancing with the Devil we had featured on Best Gore not so long ago. This is another one – presented by English actor Ross Kemp. It also features the infamous video of the execution of a gang member by a policeman behind a van. Like Dancing with the Devil, the documentary appears to point at a lot of wrongdoing on behalf of Brazilian police.
Ross Kemp travelled to Rio de Janeiro to see and experience Brazilian gangs with his own eyes. Brazil’s cocaine market is the second largest in the world and claims the lives of thousands that die in shootout with police or between gangs each year.
The origins of Rio’s gangs stretch back to the early 1970’s when Brazil’s junta imprisoned its left wing opponents in the same jail as Rio’s criminals. Out of the mix came what the media nicknamed the Red Command – a criminal organization representing the populace in the fight against the government. One of the original founders of the Red Command was William da Silva Lima nicknamed “O Professor” (The Professor). At the time of the documentary, he was serving the last months of his 36 year sentence for armed robbery. Ross Kemp interviewed him in what became the first ever interview he’s given.
A very fuckable female criminologist Ross Kemp also interviewed said 1,200 favela kids are killed by police in Rio de Janeiro alone each year. According to people’s accounts, rival gangs often invade their favelas backed up by police and many innocent bystanders get wounded in the shootout. One of the bosses of Commando Vermelho (The Red Command) told Ross Kemp about groups of corrupt police officers who kidnap the higher ranking gang members and hold them for ransom or sell their deaths to rival gangs. It is estimated that some 6,000 teenagers work in Rio’s drug gangs. A statistic says 80% of them will die before they reach 21.
The most shocking part of the documentary I think are pictures from prisons. Brazil’s jail population has doubled over the last decade to a quarter of million. The prisoners are sardined inside cells in conditions that are nothing short of appalling. They defecate into plastic bags. What makes these conditions even worse is the fact that members of rival gangs are held in the same prison which causes tension and results in frequent fights.
A preacher visits once a week and holds sessions with prisoners in which he perform exorcism that looks like those fake Christian shows on TV. But obviously, it adds strength to the prisoners to put up with the appalling conditions of the chokey. How many abandon the life of crime after release is anyone’s guess. The message from favelas is quite clear – kids join drug gangs because they have no other opportunities available to them.