Comando Vermelho

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Comando Vermelho
Founding locationCandido Mendes Prison, Ilha Grande, Brazil
Years active1969–present
Criminal activitiesMurder, drug trafficking, bribery, loan sharking, arms trafficking, assault, rioting, money laundering, hijacking, fraud, and bank robbery[1]
AlliesPrimeiro Grupo Catarinense, Família do Norte, Paraguayan crime groups
RivalsPrimeiro Comando da Capital,[2] Terceiro Comando, Terceiro Comando Puro, Amigos dos Amigos, Brazilian police militias

Comando Vermelho (Portuguese for Red Command or Red Commando; Brazilian pronunciation: [koˈmɐ̃ŋdu veʁˈmeʎu]) is a Brazilian criminal organization engaged primarily in arms and drug trafficking.[1] The group was formed in 1969 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).[1] In the early 1980s the group changed its name to the Comando Vermelho and is said to have lost its political ideology.[1]

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.[1]

The organization is a collection of independent cells rather than having a strict hierarchy, however prominent bosses include Luiz Fernando da Costa, Isaias da Costa Rodrigues.[3]

In late June 2007, Rio de Janeiro police launched a large-scale assault on the area where up to 24 people were killed.[4] According to a study by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro's Violence Research Center, in 2008 the group controlled 38.8% of the city's most violent areas, down from 53% in 2005.[5]

Comando Vermelho and Funk carioca[edit]

The Comando is always looking to attract new Brazilian youth and bring them into their ranks.[citation needed] 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".[6]

In addition to these funk parties (bailes funk), "where drugs and sex attract even bourgeois or petty-bourgeois youth",[7] 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".[7] 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.[8]

Attacks of government targets[edit]

In June 2018, the Red Command launched attacks on a Bolivian Army base in Porvenir and a Brazilian police station in Epitaciolandia, in both instances stealing weapons and ammunition.[9]

In popular culture[edit]

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).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Conflict Encyclopedia, Brazil, non-state conflict, Comando Vermelho - Terceiro Comando from Uppsala Conflict Data Program accessed 21 December 2013
  2. ^ Fonseca, Pedro; Brooks, Brad. "Brazil gang kills 31, many hacked to death, as prison violence explodes". Reuters. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  3. ^ Red Command by InSight Crime Archived 2013-06-03 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Phillips, Tom (29 June 2007). "Blood on the streets as drug gang and police fight for control of Rio favelas". The Guardian. London.
  5. ^ Gollo, Luiz Augusto (2009-11-11). "Vigilante Groups in Brazil Trump Drug Gangs and Become Rio's New Authority". Brazzil. Archived from the original on 15 November 2009. Retrieved 23 November 2009.
  6. ^ 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)
  7. ^ a b Brazil: The social contradictions underlying the violent eruption in São Paulo Benoit, Hector. 18 May 2006. World Socialist Web Site. Retrieved 14 February 2008
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ Bargent, James (June 19, 2018). "Red Command Arrests in Bolivia Point to Group's Likely Expansion". InSight Crime.