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English Report

Data from the Ministry of Justice for the state of Espírito Santo show rates of homicide that exceed 50 per 100,000 inhabitants and rates of violent crime higher than 100 per 100,000. Organized crime relies on impunity and on corruption in the legal system, such as unfinished trials of various "contract crimes". During the past year, crimes against life, particularly homicides, rose by 11.2%, from 1,572 in 2001 to 1,771 in 2002. These deaths are, in large part, executions carried out by gunmen or by the police.

Fighting organized crime in the state
of Espírito Santo

Tânia Maria Silveira*

The second half of last year marked the beginning of a series of special federal measures to combat organized crime in the state of Espírito Santo, after repeated confirmation that the level of degeneration of public institutions in the state had gone beyond what could be tolerated by society.

The governmental actions against organized crime in Espírito Santo include preventing violence and impunity, in the face of growing criminality, like in situations of civil war, as well as fighting against corruption in the legal system, such as unfinished trials of various "contract crimes" and denunciations of involvement of governmental officials with criminal groups1.

These problems have been raised by human rights organizations that, over the last two decades, have received death threats2. These organizations created the Campaign Against Impunity, launched by the National Human Rights Movement (MNDH) in 1993, which introduced the problem to society and presented it officially to the Defense Council for Human Rights (CDDPH) of the Ministry of Justice:
q The creation of the Permanent Forum against Violence and Impunity - Espírito Santo Reacts, in 1999, which unites more than 50 human rights organizations.
q The work of the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI), of the Federal Congress, on drug trafficking and organized crime.
q The request for federal intervention in the state of Espírito Santo by the Order of Attorneys (OAB), in 2002.
q The creation, by the federal government, of the Special Mission to Fight Organized Crime, in 2002.

The Special Mission to Fight Organized Crime

In order to investigate the so-called Espírito Santo mafia, the Special Mission was created in a turbulent context that involved the electoral interests of 2002. It was created in July 2002 and its 192 members - people from various federal agencies - were to produce a report in just 90 days of activity, a timeframe that was extended due to the volume of work and insufficient resources available.

In its first year, the Mission ran into many difficulties, among them the opposition of some of its own members. First, there was the revelation of a police link to a criminal organization in July 2002, when Inspector João Adilson Scalfoni, then-Superintendent of the Federal Highway Patrol (a member organization of the Special Mission), was dismissed from his job for having been a member of Scuderie Detetive Le Cocq (a vigilante paramilitary organization).

The second was the execution of the Mission's first prisoner, defendant Manoel Correia da Silva Filho, witness against Chief of the Military Police Walter Gomes Ferreira, who is considered the head of the armed wing of organized crime in the state. The prisoner had been held by the Federal Police since August 2002 and was transferred to the Monte Libano prison, without justification, in November 2002, where he was executed. This fact led to the dismissal of the federal delegate Tito Caetano, who coordinated the Mission.

In March 2003, when the battle against the criminal organizations was reaching significant proportions, there was the assassination of the judge of the Unit of Criminal Executions, Alexandre Martins de Castro Filho, a courageous member of the Special Mission. The judge's death indicated the audacity of the criminals and the establishment of a new level of confrontation which demanded more complex strategies. Moreover, several members of the commission and other collaborators had their phones tapped, received death threats, and/or were otherwise harassed.

In spite of the difficulties, the Special Mission has produced important results, including: large-scale operations resulting in the seizure of documents in the homes and offices of businessmen under investigation; the imprisonment of certain key figures in the crime network; and the freezing of property of several authorities. For example:

q Considered the head of the armed wing of organized crime, Walter Gomes Ferreira, the chief of the reserve of the Military Police, was transferred to the Special Prison of Rio Branco, a maximum security facility in the state of Acre. The order was given by the judges of the Unit of Criminal Executions, Alexandre Martins de Castro Filho, Rubens José da Cruz and Carlos Eduardo Lemos, answering the report of the Organized Crime Repression Group (GRCO) of the state's Prosecutor's Office, which alleged the need to transfer Ferreira who, although detained by the Military Police, was continuing to order killings by cell phone.
q The businessman Carlos Guilherme Lima remained in detention at the maximum security prison Mosesp II, from December 2002 to September 2003. The businessman was on the list of 51 key individuals identified by the Federal Police in Espírito Santo, revealed by the magazine Isto É, in November. Considered the "financial manager of organized crime," Guilherme Lima was accused by the Federal Prosecutor and by the Federal Police of organizing gangs, laundering money, concealing property, auction fraud, and crimes against public order. In December, he was caught in a negotiation to guarantee, in the Legislative Assembly, the authorization for the privatization of Banestes, the public bank of which he was the chief executive. Tapes recorded by the police revealed the scheme which involved deputies and the former state transportation secretary, Jorge Hélio Leal. On the recording 3, the former deputy Gumercino Vinand complains about not having received all of the agreed upon R$80,000, and Guilherme Lima talks about 16 separate checks, which may have referred to 16 different deputies.
q The former president of the Legislative Assembly, José Carlos Gratz, considered the political arm of crime in the state, was imprisoned in February 2003. The imprisonment took place as a result of his interference in the electoral process for the leadership of the Legislative Assembly. In June of 2003, the Superior Court of Justice conceded habeas corpus to him. However, he had his property frozen by the court. On September 12, he returned to prison under the accusation of diverting public funds; nonetheless, he was once against released on habeas corpus on September 21, and now responds to these trials as a free man.
q The Special Mission has ordered other arrests. One example is that of the businessman and former member of the Military Police Sebastião Pagotto, carried out in March 2003, when he was accused of ordering the assassination of lawyer Marcelo Denadai, which occurred in April 2002.
q In May 2003, the Mission requested the seizure of property of former governor José Ignácio Ferreira, of his wife and the former state Labor Secretary Maria Helena Ruy Ferreira, of his brother-in-law and former public official Gentil Antônio Ruy, and of his 1998 campaign manager Raimundo Benedito de Souza Filho. This freezing of assets was aimed at recovering R$19 million from Coopetfes (the Espírito Santo state credit union). In June, another accusation was made against Ignácio, this time for evasion of taxes on R$782,000 in income since 1998.
q It is also worth noting the ruling of the Superior Court of Justice that removed the reelected state deputies Sérgio Borges, José Tasso, Gilson Amaro, Marcos Gazzani, Fátima Couzi and Luís Carlos Moreira, in February 2003, at the request of the Special Mission - based on the charge of receiving bribes of R$30,000 each. However, they were released in April 2003.

While acknowledging the importance of these actions, the main work achieved by the Special Mission was the mapping out of organized crime in the state. According to Attorney General José Roberto Santoro, who led the team at the Federal Prosecutor's office, various indictments, trials and other actions are being developed, some already underway at the Ministry of Justice.

On the other hand, the Special Mission is restricted to federal crimes. In the past year, crimes against life, especially homicide, rose 11.2%, from 1,572 in 2001 to 1,771 in 2002. These deaths are, in large part, executions conducted by gunmen and the police.

The Cabinet of Integrated Management for Public Security

On August 8, 2003, the Ministry of Justice and the state government signed a protocol of intentions to create the Cabinet of Integrated Management (GGI). Under the leadership of Assistant Attorney General José Roberto Santoro, the GGI includes federal and state agencies: the Federal Prosecutor, the Federal Police, the Department of State for Public Safety, the State Prosecutor, and the Justice Department. It will function through the end of 2006. The GGI will rely on the National Fund for Public Safety as the source of its funding.

After a year of intense work, there is still a large local, inter-state, national and international connection among criminal organizations, without there being, as an opposing force, effective capacity in the state apparatus to control and combat these organizations. The actions taken so far allow us to know the mechanisms of criminality and impunity.

Criminal groups control billions of dollars in the world and, with their assets, corrode governments and compromise development efforts and democracy. Some criminal groups infiltrate the structures of the State, financing political campaigns, undermining the political process and co-opting public officials.

In Espírito Santo, they also control the Legislative Assembly, allegedly controlling 29 of the 30 deputies. Another mechanism is the substitution of the State in its provision of services. In many places, criminal organizations provide work, safety and protection, and even social assistance.

For these reasons, it is now the consensus among governmental and non-governmental organizations involved in this work that the fight against organized crime in the state of Espírito Santo is just beginning.

*Tânia Maria Silveira is a human rights activist, and a member of the administrative team of Congress member Iriny Lopes.

1. An example is the case of Scuderie Detective Le Cocq, a paramilitary association, legally constituted, with an identified address, described by the CPI of Narcotraffic of the Federal Chamber of Deputies as a "criminal organization, still active in the state, comprising the action of civilian and military groups against constitutional order and the Democratic State and Law, confronting itself in Constitutional rule (Article 5, inciso XLIV da Carta Magna), characterized by violence to the Law and Fundamental Guarantees".

2. In the 2002 Report of the Social Network for Justice and Human Rights, we presented a brief retrospective of the facts and the protagonists.

3. Gazeta on line; 12/12/2002