Law enforcement forces confirmed the recovery of 17 machine guns of 21 stolen from the Army Arsenal in Barueri, in Greater São Paulo. Eight were found in Rio de Janeiro, in an area controlled by the Red Command (CV) and 9 were found in São Roque, São Paulo countryside.
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According to the corporation, during an inspection carried out last Tuesday (10/10) at its War Arsenal, the military noticed the disappearance of thirteen .50 caliber machine guns and another eight 7.62 caliber machine guns. .50 machine guns are known for having the firepower and range to take down even an aircraft. All the weapons taken were not operational but could undergo maintenance. This is the largest diversion of weapons recorded by the Brazilian Army since 2009, when the Sou da Paz Institute began carrying out this type of survey.
The Weapons Taken
The Southeast Military Command (CMSE) reported that 8 7.62 caliber and 13 .50 caliber weapons were taken – one of the most powerful weapons of war and capable of downing aircraft. They have the capacity to fire 600 shots per minute and have a range of more than 3.5 kilometers.
On Tuesday (17/10), the Army decided to allow 320 soldiers detained to leave the barracks in Barueri, in Greater São Paulo. Approximately 160 soldiers remain stationed. The Army decided to keep these other soldiers retained, who represent almost 1/3 of the troops, as a necessary measure so that they can eventually be heard in the investigation.
Members of the Army’s military leadership see the participation of insiders in facilitating the theft of the machine guns as practically certain.
Offer to Drug Trafficking
The 21 large-caliber machine guns stolen from the Barueri barracks, in Greater São Paulo, were offered to the largest criminal faction in Rio de Janeiro. Media sources found that the RJ Civil Police had access to a video with the image of four machine guns being displayed to a potential buyer from Rio. According to investigations, the weapons offering took place just over a month ago, after the 7 September holiday. The group that stole the machine guns asked for R$180,000 for each gun.
The offer for the guns was made to drug dealer William de Souza Guedes, known as Corolla, a criminal who currently commands the Manguinhos Complex, in the North Zone of Rio and is one of the trusted men of the leaders of the Red Command (CV) faction.
Investigations Begin to Yield Results
The Army has already identified suspects of facilitating the disappearance of 21 machine guns from the military barracks in Barueri. According to G1, military investigations are increasingly restricting the number of people who may be involved in the disappearance of weapons — and all military personnel who were responsible for supervision or control will be held responsible and will face disciplinary punishments. The Army’s expectation is that this will happen soon. The identified military personnel have already received the transgression investigation forms to carry out their defense. The investigation is investigating the participation of three soldiers who would have been co-opted by organized crime.
Eight Weapons Found
Eight of the 21 Army machine guns that were stolen from the Barracks War Arsenal in Barueri, in São Paulo, were found on Thursday (19/10) at the entrance to Gardênia Azul, in the West Zone of Rio. The seizure of 4 .50 machine guns and another 4 MAGs, caliber 7.62, was made by agents from the Narcotics Suppression Police Station (DRE), of the RJ Civil Police, with support from Army Intelligence. No one was arrested. They would be used in the dispute between factions that has been terrorizing the Jacarepaguá region for almost a year.
Nine Found in São Paulo
On Friday night (20/10), nine weapons stolen from the Army barracks were found late by the Civil Police hidden in mud in a forested area in São Roque. The weapons were ditched in a puddle of mud by a group of smugglers after noticing that a police patrol was coming after them. According to the São Paulo Public Security Secretariat (SSP), all stolen weapons would be sent and sold to criminal factions, such as the First Capital Command (PCC) and the CV.
For comparative purposes, according to the Sou da Paz Institute, between January 2015 and March 2020, 27 Army weapons were stolen, robbed, or diverted in Brazil. The Army’s last major diversion was that of seven caliber 7.62 rifles diverted from a battalion in Caçapava in 2009, also in São Paulo. That time, all the weapons were recovered. The current deviation, however, is much more serious, not only due to the number of weapons taken at once, but due to their firepower. These machine guns are automatic weapons used to pierce armor. Its deviation shows a precarious control of the arsenals. The Army will need support from the police to quickly recover these weapons, identify and punish those responsible, but above all, correct security procedures to prevent other incidents like this. Furthermore, these stolen weapons pose a serious risk to the population and law enforcement forces when in the hands of organized crime.