|Founding location||Candido Mendes Prison, Ilha Grande, Brazil|
|Territory||Various neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro|
|Criminal activities||Murder, drug trafficking, bribery, loan sharking, arms trafficking, money laundering, hijacking, fraud, and bank robbery|
Comando Vermelho (Portuguese for Red Command) is a major Brazilian criminal organization engaged primarily in arms and drug trafficking. The group was formed in 1979 when a collection of ordinary convicts and left-wing political prisoners were incarcerated together during the military dictatorship of 1964-1985 and formed Falange Vermelha (Red Phalanx). In the early 1980s the group changed its name to the Comando Vermelho and is said to have lost its political ideology.
The Comando Vermelho controls parts of Rio de Janeiro and has fought several small-scale conflicts (in 2001 and 2004) with the rival gang Terceiro Comando which itself emerged from a power struggle amongst the leaders of Comando Vermelho during the mid-1980s.
In late June 2007, Rio de Janeiro police launched a large-scale assault on the area where up to 24 people were killed. According to a study by Rio de Janeiro University's Violence Research Center, in 2008 the group controlled 38.8% of the city's most violent areas, down from 53% in 2005.
Comando Vermelho and Funk
The Comando is always looking to attract new Brazilian youth and bring them into their ranks. In addition to sponsoring groups like neighborhood associations and special interest clubs, and organizing sporting events, one of the most common ways in which the criminal organization is able to catch the youth's attention is through the popular musical style of funk, a form of Brazilian "booty music" derived from Miami Bass. Due to the genre's popularity with young Brazilians, the group "is known to have subsidized funk parties to recruit young kids for drug dealing".
In addition to these funk parties (bailes funk), "where drugs and sex attract even bourgeois or petty-bourgeois youth" held regularly by the organization every Sunday, funk artists are also sponsored by the Comando Vermelho to record songs and even entire CDs that promote the group and eulogize the group's dead members. Because the Comando pays for the production and recording of the funk songs, they "are often well recorded and of a high technical quality, and are being played on pirate radio stations and sold by hundreds of street vendors in Rio de Janeiro and in São Paulo". Thus the funk artists that are in league with Comando Vermelho sometimes garner significant sales and airplay despite making a type of music that is Proibidão, or "extremely prohibited", in terms of where it can be sold and who can play it. In addition to promoting the crime group, the funk sponsored by the Comando also challenges the ideas and laws of the Division of the Repression Against Drugs.
Comando Vermelho in the News and Media
Ross Kemp made a documentary about the Red Command (CV). The film City of God shows the early beginnings of Comando Vermelho. The DVD release of this movie contains an extra documentary "News of a Private War" which features interviews with the police and local children from the favelas (slums).
November 2010 shootout
- Conflict Encyclopedia, Brazil, non-state conflict, Comando Vermelho - Terceiro Comando from Uppsala Conflict Data Program accessed 21 December 2013
- Red Command by InSight Crime
- Phillips, Tom (29 June 2007). "Blood on the streets as drug gang and police fight for control of Rio favelas". The Guardian (London).
- Gollo, Luiz Augusto (2009-11-11). "Vigilante Groups in Brazil Trump Drug Gangs and Become Rio's New Authority". Brazzil. Retrieved 23 November 2009.
- Behague, Gerard. "Rap, Reggae, Rock, or Samba: The Local and the Global in Brazilian Popular Music (1985-95)." Latin American Music Review 27, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2006)
- Brazil: The social contradictions underlying the violent eruption in São Paulo Benoit, Hector. 18 May 2006. World Socialist Web Site. Retrieved 14 February 2008
- Behague, Gerard. "Rap, Reggae, Rock, or Samba: The Local and the Global in Brazilian Popular Music (1985-95)." Latin American Music Review 27, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2006): 79-90
- The Guardian - Blood on the streets as drug gang and police fight for control of Rio favelas
- UNODC Report - Firearms and drugs fuel conflict in Brazil's favelas