Tag Archives: Crime

Local Brazilian Funk DJ shot to death outside his home last night

(WARNING: Disturbing image in link at end of article)

A Funk DJ in Belo Horizonte was shot dead outside his house in Pampulha last night by two motorcyclists that rode past him, confirmed it was him and then circled back to open fire. He was shot ten times and died at the scene.

Although police say they don’t know the motive for the killing, rumours are that DJ Paulinho was mixed up with the wrong girl – a girl already attached to someone dangerous. His death could have been as petty as that – seems ridiculous, doesn’t it?

The worst thing about it is that this motive has been seen before in the Brazilian music scene.

The rumours echo the murder of MC Daleste a few years back, a huge Funk star making $60,000 a night when he was murdered (reportedly by cops) live on stage. MC Daleste was supposed to have been fooling around with a girl attached to a big drug-trafficker. For that, he was killed.

DJ Paulinho wasn’t a mega-star DJ in Brazil, but he had enough sets that he would work the local Funk circuit in Belo Horizonte, and he’d toured in the US, Portugal and France. He had a song called “Vai Paulin Vai Paulin” which got pretty famous.

Below is a video of him doing a Funk mix at Conexão Rio. The crime-scene image for DJ Paulinho is here – don’t click the link if you don’t want to see a dead body or blood.

Rest in peace – descanse em paz.




Six reasons Neymar represents everything that’s wrong with Brazil and its wealthy elite

Although the advertising machine around Neymar works hard to make him appear a pretty nice guy, here’s six reasons why the footballer – rightly or wrongly – represents everything wrong with Brazil’s wealthy, corrupt elite and the crushing inequality these powerful figures create.

1) He, or the people around him, are corrupt: When Neymar signed for Barcelona its vice president Josep Maria Bartomeu said Neymar’s transfer fee was €87.2 million. They then declared the  official transfer fee on documents as €57 million, as €40 million “supposedly… flowed to a company which is close to Neymar’s family.”

Brazilian politicians are famously corrupt. One politician was elected to Brazil’s Congress while under investigation for murder after having an adversary killed with a chain saw. Another is wanted by Interpol after being found guilty of diverting more than $10 million from a public road project to offshore bank accounts. I can’t find the source but I read recently that 60 per cent of Brazilian politicians are currently under police investigation.

2) He’s rich: Neymar was making 1.5 million reais a year at just 16 years old. He makes 9 million euros a year now playing for Barcelona.

Similarly, Brazilian politicians are among the highest paid and least productive in the world.

And in the world of business the 15 Richest Families In Brazil are worth an estimated $122 billion — or about 5% of the country’s total GDP. Out of 65 Brazilian billionaires listed by FORBES in its World’s Billionaires list, 25 are blood relatives.

3) He’ll sell himself to the highest bidder: Neymar has sponsorship deals with Castrol, Red Bull, Volkswagen and Panasonic and an 11 year boot deal with Nike worth at least $1 million per year. There’s nothing wrong with footballers making hay while the sun shines, though.

Brazilian politicians see nothing wrong using the same “sponsorship” tactics, however. Municipal and state officials are close to the mega-corporations that run Brazil’s construction, beverage, transport, energy and food industries. The cost of building Brasilia’s World Cup stadium nearly tripled to $900m in public funds, for example, largely due to allegedly fraudulent billing.

This after the construction company for Brasilia’s stadium increased its political donations 500-fold in the most recent election.

4) He’s light-skinned: Neymar’s dying his hair blonde might seem insignificant, but it takes on huge cultural significance in a country that has a legacy of slavery and inequality. It’s known as “Branqueamento”, (“Whitening”) and can lead to a prosperous shift from the darker-skinned underclass to the lighter-skinned Brazilian elite.

Neymar a few days ago: tall and tanned and young and blonde?
Neymar before the Brazil-Mexico game: tall and tanned and young and blonde.

Over 70 per cent of Brazilian politicians are light-skinned.

The Berkeley Review suggests this is because white Brazilians have more money on average than non-whites. Brazilian politicians elected to office had significantly higher mean total assets, at 432,000 Brazilian reais (R$), than those who were not elected, whose average assets totaled only R$188,000. White Brazilians have an average net worth of R$440,000, compared to R$247,000 for non-whites, indicating that on average white politicians simply have more cash to spend on campaigns than non-whites, and therefore gain power more easily.

5) He left Brazil: In 2010 Neymar’s agent said Neymar “wants to become the best player in the world. The chances of him doing that while playing in Brazil are zero.” Neymar added that  it was a “dream” of his “to play in Europe”.

There’s nothing against a football player wanting to play for one of the biggest teams in the world, and those teams are in Europe. But it is a familiar desire amongst the wealthy Brazilian elite to leave the country (they have the power to change, rather than rob from) and in which they have made their fortune to hide their money in Cayman Islands bank accounts or spend it on handbags, iPhones and suits in New York and Europe.

In 2005 a senior politician in Lula’s government was seized at an airport with $100,000 in his underwear as part of the Mensalão corruption saga.

6) He’s not afraid of backing out on a promise: Neymar promised his youth club Santos he wouldn’t leave them until after the 2014 World Cup. Santos consequently doubled his wages to raise him to European footballer salary levels.

…And in 2013 Neymar signed for Barcelona, anyway.

Politicians are familiar with breaking promises. A trainline between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro promised for the 2014 World Cup has, as of today, never even started. A huge number of World Cup projects remain unfinished or were never started. Belo Horizonte’s metro system was supposed to be extended for the World Cup. As of today it has one line.

Dilma, Cade o Metro? ("Where is the Metro?")
Dilma, Cade o Metro? (“Where is the Metro?”)

So there you have it; six reasons why Neymar represents everything that wrong with Brazil and its wealthy elite.

“Don’t react, don’t shout and don’t argue.” Sao Paulo head’s armed robbery safety tips for World Cup tourists

Sao Paulo’s head of Civil Police has prepared a leaflet for visiting World Cup tourists for whom being mugged in the street by a robber with a gun “is an infrequent event”, and who “may attempt to react in the wrong way” (ie, fight back and get themselves killed).

Armed robberies in Brazil in which a ladrão approaches you with a gun in the street often end badly if the victim tries to fight back (Youtube link). For the ladrão armed robberies are a high-risk strategy, as they know the police will shoot them dead if they’re caught, so they prefer to make a clean getaway and leave no witnesses. This means shooting the victim dead if necessary. 

As such, the advice not to react, shout or argue is good. I’d also add to keep looking down, and to not look the robber in the eyes too long. If they think you’re trying to memorise their face to describe to the police later, they’ll kill you. 

Some more tips:

1) Keep big bills hidden somewhere. If you need to wander around with a few hundred reais on you, put it in your sock. Hand over the 40 reais you kept in your pocket to keep the ladrão happy. 

2) Don’t wear watches and jewellery, and keep that camera in an old backpack, not around your neck. iPhones are like catnip here for ladrãos – don’t be wandering around playing on yours all day, or it will be swiped.

3) Take taxis and don’t walk around at night. Don’t use short-cuts through alleys and always be aware of who’s around you.

4) Be prepared to leave places pretty fast, and that might mean running. 

5) Don’t romanticise the poverty here. Yes, there are newly-pacified favelas with colourful grafitti, guided tours and cute hostels, but when you arrive you’ll see how ugly the majority of the vast urban sprawl is around the big cities. Guided tours through historically-safe favelas are one thing, entering random favelas without permission is another. Favelas are mini-fiefdoms at the mercy of drug-dealing gangs, and they don’t like strangers. 

Protests after 72-year-old woman shot dead in Rio favela Alemão

A 72-year-old woman was shot dead during a gun-battle between police and drug-traffickers last night in Favela Nova Brasília, part of the Complexo do Alemão in Rio de Janeiro, sparking a protest amongst residents that ran through the night. Three cars were set alight near the main coordination center of the city’s Police Pacification Units, permanent police stations set up in the middle of “pacified” favelas. 

Both Maré and the Complexo do Alemão complexes are located close to the city’s main international airport and major central thoroughfares and public transport transit links, infrastructure critical to the World Cup.

The Maré favela was occupied by federal troops at the beginning of April in a bid to quell violence in the strategically-located shantytown ahead of the soccer tournament

According to police, a group of officers were patrolling at 18h30 when drug-traffickers shot at them. They returned fire and the elderly Arlinda Bezerra de Assis was shot during the exchange.

The Complexo do Alemão is one of the recently “pacified” favelas (“Pacificação”) in anticipation for the 2014  World Cup.

On the same day police arrested a man suspected of killing a police-officer earlier in the year. 21-year-old Ramires Roberto da Silva was found in an abandoned house in Alemão, and he reportedly tried to bribe the police with R$100,000 (about US$45,000 or £25k) if they let him go. 

21-year-old Ramires Roberto da Silva was found in an abandoned house in Alemão, tried to bribe police with R$100,000
21-year-old Ramires Roberto da Silva was found in an abandoned house in Alemão, tried to bribe police with R$100,000

Eight of Brazil’s 12 World Cup host cities are in the 50 most dangerous cities in the World

Empty perfume bottles used to deal drugs found in an abandoned house in Rio de Janeiro.
Empty perfume bottles used to deal drugs found in an abandoned house in Rio de Janeiro.

Out of Brazil’s 12 host cities for the 2014 World Cup, eight of them feature in the top 50 deadliest cities in the world.

The city with the highest murder rate in Brazil is Maceió in the northern state of Bahia, close to Salvador, a World Cup host city. It had a staggering 85 murders per 100,000 residents last year.

See the list below, but speaking from my own perspective living in Belo Horizinte (No. 48 on the list), I feel fairly safe on the streets, and the murders are contained to the poorer areas of the city, where drug-dealing and corruption are rife. Visiting tourists might get mugged, but as long as you hand everything over without a fight you’re unlikely to get killed (Youtube link).

Two striking omissions from the list: São Paulo is now approaching the 10 homicides per 100,000 mark, down from 35 in 1999, and in Rio de Janeiro the murder rate dropped from 42 murders per 100,000 in 2005 to 24 murders per 100,000 in 2012.

It is rising again, however. And it should also be noted that a lot of deaths are recorded as “Unexplained”, and don’t make the murder statistics. Bodies are regularly dumped in the jungle outside of big cities and, if ever found, recorded as unexplained.

In the order they feature in the list:

49) Brasilia scrapes into the Top 50 with 29 murders per 100,000 people.

48) Belo Horizonte barely scrapes in, too, with 29 murders per 100,000 people.

42) Curitiba is next on the list with 34 murders per 100,000 people.

30) Recife had 44 murders per 100,000 people.

28) Cuiaba had 45 per 100,000.

14) Salvador had 65 murders per 100,000 people.

13) Fortaleza tied with Salvador.

11) Manaus, in the heart of the Amazon, had 70 murders for every 100,000 people.

No. 1 on the list is San Pedro Sula in the Honduras, with 169 murders for every 100,000 citizens, followed by cities in Venezuela and Mexico. A total of 15 Brazilian cities are featured on the list.

A Rio de Janeiro's tools of the trade: a gun, a bullet-proof vest and a mobile phone.
A Rio de Janeiro’s tools of the trade: a 9mm handgun, a bullet-proof vest and a mobile phone.

How to make a million dollars a year in Brazil: Funk Ostentação music – São Paulo rappers, gold, champagne and cars

Money, luxury and showing off. “Funk” music coming out of São Paulo is all about being ostentatious (“Ostentação”) with your wealth, and that means designer clothes, imported cars, nightclubs and women.

Watching Funk Ostentação on Youtube is like watching 90’s American rap videos; singers throw champagne around in fake nightclubs, walk in front of expensive (hired) cars and hover-hand strippers that dance as if they’re not sure if the director yelled “Cut!” or not.

Funkeiros ostentação - these guys can make £60,000 (US$100,000) a month here in Brazil...
Funkeiros ostentação – these guys can make £60,000 (US$100,000) a month here in Brazil…

With lyrics that highlight an ambition to leave the favela  and live the good life of women, nightclubs, cars and jewels, Funk Ostentação singers are self-fulfilling dream-makers. Videos on Youtube showing them counting fake US dollar bills and standing in front of expensive imported cars now make them tens of thousands of dollars in ad revenue, and the biggest Funk Ostentação stars charge R$10,000 (US$4,000, £2,700) a show.

Although this kind of wasteful excess seems arrogant and cruel given the huge inequality between rich and poor in Brazil, its biggest stars talk freely about their lives before they became stars – MC Tchesko sold pastries from a street-cart and MC Felipinho washed cars.

MC Guime
MC Guime

The new style of Funk made headlines last year when MC Daleste was shot dead live on stage in Sao Paulo. MC Daleste was pulling in £60,000 a month as a rapper before he was shot dead (link to his Youtube video).

MC Daleste was making £60,000 a month as a rapper before he was shot dead on stage.
MC Daleste was making £60,000 a month as a Funk rapper before he was shot dead on stage.

Four other Funk Ostentação MCs have also been shot dead, supposedly by ex-police “grupos de exterminio”(death-squads) targeting rappers with anti-police lyrics, although my sources tell me MC Daleste was killed for stealing a woman from a dangerous drug-trafficker. These rappers have gained a form of respect from even the middle classes, who normally scoff and talk about the hyper-sexualised lyrics of Funk Carioca music.

When an 18-year-old kid that used to wash cars is pulling in 10x more than a middle-aged doctor makes in a  year, and goes on stage every night despite the threat of getting shot dead, how can you not stop and admire their bravado just a little?

Rio de Janeiro’s favela drug-dealer extermination squad “BOPE” has its own Twitter feed…

BOPE, Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais, (lit: Special Police Operations Battalion) is a special forces unit of the Military Police of Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. Its tactics were made well-known in cinemas worldwide with the smash-hit Tropa de Elite and its sequel.

And BOPE has a crazy Twitter feed featuring pictures of all of the guns, drugs and money it’s confiscated from the favelas.

Guns, bullets, binoculars and grenades

BOPE seized an AK47, 5 grenades, 647 AK47 rounds, 133 rounds of .40 ammunition and $R31,920 (about US$20,000)
BOPE seized an AK47, five grenades, 647 AK47 rounds, 133 rounds of .40 ammunition and $R31,920 (about US$20,000).

BOPEThe official BOPE badge is a skull with a dagger stabbed through it and two guns behind its head.

BOPE’s former police leader is awaiting trial accused of the torture and murder of a street-protester, whose body has never been found and has been presumed dumped in the jungle. Confidence in BOPE is at a low.

Cocaine, radio transmitters and ammo
Cocaine, radio transmitters and ammo

The current police leader, Commissioner Sa, said today it’s getting a handle on crime, even though murders are rising in Rio de Janeiro.

Weed, cocaine, guns and ammo

He said: “A logo do bope pode parecer com o que usam os grupos de extermínio, mas isso é coincidencia.” (“The BOPE logo might look similar to one used by a death squad, but this is a coincidence.”)

"BOPE just apprehended two men with drugs."
“BOPE just apprehended two men with drugs.”

He continued: “The BOPE is a special, tactical squad, like a SWAT team, prepared for the most dangerous situations. The image is meant to signify they may have to face the possibility of their own death and overcome that, not to celebrate killing.”

Five blocks of weed and two gallons of ether.
Five blocks of weed and two gallons of ether.
400 pounds of weed, five pounds of base paste and 3,358 bags of cocaine.
400 pounds of weed, five pounds of base paste and 3,358 bags of cocaine.
Bags of AK47 rounds
Bags of AK47 rounds