The diary reads December 27, 2020 and three boys, aged nine, 11 and 12, disappear shortly after leaving their homes in the Moro do Castellar favela in Rio de Janeiro to play. Shots from a security camera show them moving towards a local flea market. Since then, no one has heard from them, until the shocking revelation of the truth almost a year later.
The fate of Lucas, Alexandre and Fernando remained a mystery despite the outcry from Brazil and the extensive police investigation. On Thursday, however, police claimed that they finally managed to clear up the case. They found out that the boys were abducted by members of the Red Command (CV) gang that controls their community.
The shocking revelation
The head of the homicide service, Uriel Alcantara, said the children had been tortured and severely beaten as a result of which one of them had died as a result of allegedly stealing a bird belonging to the uncle of a local criminal.
“The children were hit, the situation escalated and they killed one of them – so they decided that the only solution was to execute the other two,” Alcantara said.
The murders they once again brought to the fore the unimaginable violence plaguing the slums of Rio de Janeiro, where the authorities have effectively ceded control to the increasingly heavily armed gangs of drug dealers or paramilitary organizations.
Police say a local trafficker, Ana Paula da Rosa Costa, or “Theitsa Paola”, had organized the smuggling of the children’s bodies out of the favela, their dismemberment and the dumping of their members in a river. At present, the bodies of the children have not been located.
During the investigation, a witness allegedly heard one of Castlar’s drug dealers, Guille Castro da Silva, admit: “We took the children and killed them.”
Executions of the guilty
Silva, a 35-year-old criminal known as “Stala”, was one of the five suspects in the murder, against whom the police issued arrest warrants in the early hours of Thursday. But at least three of the five suspects are believed to be dead, having been executed on the orders of high-ranking “executives” of the gang for their role in the killings. The executions of the children violated the cruel unwritten law of the gang and at the same time drew attention to its criminal activity.
Theitsa Paola, 44, who sold chemical drugs, such as ecstasy in the favela, was allegedly tortured and executed in early October after being called to her CV headquarters.
A few days later, another trafficker was reportedly sentenced to death by the gang leaders for failing to prevent the children from being executed. Stala, who allegedly oversaw the beating and torture of the children, as the stolen bird belonged to his uncle, is believed to have also been killed.
A society that has succumbed to barbarism
Flavia Oliveira, a prominent social and political commentator, told GloboNews that the killings and their horrific aftermath reveal “a society that has succumbed to barbarism.”
“This is a society that now treats the deaths and lives of its children as trivial,” he said, calling on the governor of Rio, the president of Brazil and all Brazilians to apologize to the families of the victims.
“These three boys θηκαν were also killed as a result of exclusion, lack of support, indifference and due to the initial delay of the investigations. “They were killed because of despair, poverty and insecurity.”
Left-wing politician and human rights activist Marcello Freixo called for the perpetrators to be punished and for the killings to end. “Rio can not be held hostage to violence and crime,” he said.
A perpetual cycle of violence
But there is little evidence of any optimism for an end to the decades-long drug conflict in the city. A “peaceful” police program designed to regain control of the slums before the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil has largely fallen short. At least 4,386 exchanges of shots were recorded in Rio during 2021, according to the violence recording team Fogo Cruzado. More than 1,000 people were killed.
In a gruesome demonstration of the seemingly endless cycle of violence, an October report said the father of one of the missing boys had been arrested for possession of a firearm. He had become a member of a local gang, hoping that in this way he would be able to find out who his son’s killers were.
“He said he joined the gang to find the killer and avenge his son’s death,” police chief Jose Mario Salomao told reporters at the time.
With information from the Guardian