Comando Vermelho

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Comando Vermelho
The letters "CV" sprayed on a wall in Salvador, Brazil, to represent the criminal faction
Founding locationCandido Mendes Prison, Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Years active1979–present
  • Luiz Fernando da Costa [1]
  • Márcio dos Santos Nepomuceno
ActivitiesMurder, drug trafficking, bribery, loan sharking, arms trafficking, assault, rioting, money laundering, hijacking, fraud, and bank robbery[2]
AlliesPrimeiro Grupo Catarinense, Paraguayan crime groups, Comando da Paz, Bala na Cara, Sindicato do Crime do Rio Grande do Norte, Okaida, Comando Revolucionário Brasileiro da Criminalidade, Primeiro Comando de Vitória
RivalsPrimeiro Comando da Capital,[3] Terceiro Comando, Terceiro Comando Puro, Amigos dos Amigos, Brazilian police militias, Família do Norte, Guardiões do Estado

Comando Vermelho (Portuguese: [koˈmɐ̃du veʁˈmeʎu], Red Command or Red Commando), also known as C.V. is a Brazilian criminal organization engaged primarily in drug trafficking, arms trafficking, protection racketeering, kidnappings-for-ransom, armored truck hijackings, loansharking, irregular warfare, narco-terrorism, and turf wars against rival criminal organizations, such as Primeiro Comando da Capital and Terceiro Comando Puro.[2] The group, originally known as Falange Vermelha ("Red Phalanx"), was formed in 1979 as an alliance between ordinary convicts and leftist militants who were incarcerated together during the military dictatorship of 1964–1985.[2][4] In the early 1980s, the group changed its name to Comando Vermelho and abandoned its far-left political ideology.[4][2]

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.[2]

The organization is a collection of independent cells rather than having a strict hierarchy, however prominent bosses include Luiz Fernando da Costa and Isaias da Costa Rodrigues.[5] The group calls leaders "donos" (Portuguese for "owners"), and has different donos in charge of different aspects of the gang's life. The Red Command "president" and "vice-president" positions are held by donos that are currently incarcerated.[6] These incarcerated donos practice internal criminal governance as described by Lessing. In prison, the donos "rule prison life, settle internal faction disputes that occur outside of prison and make the final decision on any matters of mutual interest for faction affiliates."[6]

In late June 2007, Rio de Janeiro police launched a large-scale assault on the area where up to 24 people were killed.[7] 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.[8]

Comando Vermelho and funk carioca[edit]

The Comando continue to attract new Brazilian youth and bring them into their ranks.[9][10] 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 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".[11]

In addition to these funk parties (bailes funk), "where drugs and sex attract even bourgeois or petty-bourgeois youth",[12] 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".[12] 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.[11]


According to accounts recorded by investigative journalists, Red Commando's structure consists of a "loose" arrangement in which a syndicate of individual criminals are associated and united under a leadership command.[13] Rather than a hierarchical organization, Red Commando has been described as a "network of independent actors."[14]

On the Global Organized Crime Index, Brazil has been given a "Criminality" score of 6.50 and ranks 22nd out of 193 countries and has been given a "Resilience" score of 5.04 and ranks 87th out of 193 countries. Higher Criminality scores are indicative of greater criminality conditions while higher Resilience scores are indicative of how well a country responds to organized crime.[15]

Attacks of government targets[edit]

On 19 November 2016, a police helicopter of the Rio de Janeiro police was shot down by small arms fire during a clash with gang members of Comando Vermelho and crashed in a ditch. All four police officers onboard were killed.[16][17] 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.[18]

Women's roles in the gang[edit]

Women's roles within Red Commando are not clearly defined, but by analyzing PCC, a similar group, women are observed as exercising positions of power and participating in gang justice and violence, challenging the misconception that women are only utilized in the lowest echelons. Traditionally, women in Brazilian gangs are assumed to possess little power and are thought to be connected only through close relationships for whom they serve to help with domestic duties, carrying messages, or smuggling drugs. However, women have been increasingly incorporated into the arrangement and enactment of crimes, revealing that women are able to rise to higher leadership positions and are willing to take part in the violence.[19]

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).

The Brazilian crime film "400 contra 1", released in 2010, narrates a fictionalized history of the birth of the gang in the late 1970s.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Os donos do crime: Marcola, Beira-Mar e Zé Roberto da Compensa". Istoé. 6 January 2017. Retrieved 2022-07-21.
  2. ^ a b c d e Conflict Encyclopedia, Brazil, non-state conflict, Comando Vermelho – Terceiro Comando from Uppsala Conflict Data Program accessed 21 December 2013
  3. ^ Fonseca, Pedro; Brooks, Brad (6 January 2017). "Brazil gang kills 31, many hacked to death, as prison violence explodes". Reuters. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Red Command". InSight Crime. May 18, 2018. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  5. ^ Red Command by InSight Crime Archived 2013-06-03 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b "Responses to Information Requests (RIRs)" (PDF). Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. 28 Mar 2022. Retrieved 1 April 2022.
  7. ^ Phillips, Tom (29 June 2007). "Blood on the streets as drug gang and police fight for control of Rio favelas". The Guardian. London.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Grillo, Ioan (26 February 2016). "The gangs who rule Brazil's favelas are not afraid to be seen". The World Weekly. Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  10. ^ Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (2019-04-08). "Brazil: the Red Command (Comando Vermelho, CV) criminal organization, including activities, areas of operation, membership, structure, networks, political connections, and resources; state protection available for victims of crimes committed by the Red Command (2017-March 2019) [BRA106243.E]". Retrieved 20 June 2021 – via
  11. ^ a b Behague, Gerard (Spring-Summer 2006). "Rap, Reggae, Rock, or Samba: The Local and the Global in Brazilian Popular Music, 1985-1995." Latin American Music Review. 27 (1): 79-90
  12. ^ a b "Brazil: The social contradictions underlying the violent eruption in Sao Paulo". World Socialist Web Site. Retrieved 2023-01-03.
  13. ^ "Red Command". Americas Quarterly. January 26, 2021. Retrieved 2022-04-01.
  14. ^ "Red Command". InSight Crime. 2017-03-27. Retrieved 2022-04-01.
  15. ^ "Criminality in Brazil – The Organized Crime Index". Retrieved 2022-04-01.
  16. ^ "Brazil: Four dead after police helicopter 'shot down by gang'". BBC News. 20 November 2016. Retrieved 2021-08-27.
  17. ^ "Brazilian police probe military chopper crash" on YouTube
  18. ^ Bargent, James (June 19, 2018). "Red Command Arrests in Bolivia Point to Group's Likely Expansion". InSight Crime.
  19. ^ "Women in Brazil PCC Cell Take Part in Planning Killings". InSight Crime. 2019-11-11. Retrieved 2022-04-01.

General bibliography[edit]