Estadão: “A Death Squad Murdered the Colonel”

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Col. Rodrigues gets shot down like a dog — reportedly now by out-of-control
subordinates.

The killer kicked the colonel in the face after shooting him.

Coronel da PM foi morto por grupo de extermínio: Marcelo Godoy of the Estado de S. Paulo has been providing extensive coverage of the assassination of a military police colonel who commanded the patrol division for the northern zone of the city of São Paulo.

See also

This dispatch I reproduce here is from February 9.

The entire front page of the (excellent) Metrópole section was dedicated yesterday to a story reporting that a number of commanders in the same area have been threatened with the same by death squads run by troopers and noncoms. The story was also chamada (a “callout” directing you to the inside page) on the front page, below the fold.

It makes compelling reading. This is gutsy public-interest reporting.

Um grupo de extermínio assassinou o coronel José Hermínio Rodrigues, que comandava a Polícia Militar na zona norte de São Paulo. A principal suspeita é que o grupo “Matadores do 18”, composto por policiais do 18º Batalhão, esteja por trás do crime. A prova é um exame de balística que mostra que a arma usada para matar o coronel é a mesma que foi utilizada em uma chacina que deixou seis mortos e um ferido em 29 de junho de 2007, na região da Água Fria, zona norte de São Paulo.

A death squad murdered Col. José Hermínio Rodrigues, the state military police commander for the northern district of the capital city. The leading suspicion now is that a group called “The Killers of the 18th [Battalion],” made up policemen from the 18th Military Police Battalion, are behind the crime. The evidence for this is a ballistics report showing that the weapon used to kill the colonel is the same used in a massacre that left six dead and one wounded on June 29, 2007, in the Água Fria area, northern district.

Testemunhas acusavam policiais de terem participado da matança, ocorrida um dia depois que um soldado da PM foi morto num assalto no bairro. Os assassinos encapuzados estavam em três motos. Usaram uma pistola calibre 380 e outras armas. Foram as cápsulas disparadas pela pistola calibre 380 que foram comparadas com as achadas ao lado do coronel. A marca deixada pela pistola nas cápsulas disparadas nos dois crimes era igual, demonstrando que saíram da mesma arma.

Witnesses charged police with having taken part in the massacre, which occurred one day after a military police trooper was killed in an armed robbery in the neighborhood. The murderers, wearing ski-masks, were riding three motorcycles. They used a .380 pistol and other firearms. The shells fired by the .380 pistol were compared with those found beside the colonel’s body. The mark [of the firing pin] left on the discharged shells was the same in both cases, showing that the shots were fired by the same weapon.

Não se sabe ao certo o motivo da morte do coronel, mas a suspeita maior é que Hermínio tenha sido assassinado por ter afastado da Força Tática do 18º Batalhão vários policiais suspeitos de envolvimento em chacinas de 2007 – de 13 casos na capital, no ano passado, 8 ocorreram na zona norte.

It is not known for certain why the colonel was killed, but the leading suspicion is that he was murdered for having suspended a number of troopers from the 18th Battalion’s “Tactical Force” unit on suspicion of involvement in death-squad massacres in 2007. Of 13 such incidents in São Paulo in 2007, 8 occurred in the northern district.

O principal suspeito de ser o autor do assassinato é o soldado Pascoal dos Santos Lima. Acusado de outros seis homicídios, Lima foi alvo de investigação da Corregedoria da PM em 2007 por causa das “derrubadas” na região do Comando de Policiamento de Área Metropolitano-3 (CPA-M3). Na época, dizia aos colegas que era “preciso sentar o aço” em seu desafetos.

The principal suspect in the murder is PM Pvt. Pascoal dos Santos Lima. Accused of six other homicides, Lima was the target of an internal affairs investiation in 2007 because of the [jargon for shooting people down in cold blood] in the area assigned to the [Third Patrol Command of the Metro Area] (CPA-M3). At the time, he told colleagues it was “necessary to put the steel” to his enemies.

Lima é dono de uma moto Honda Falcon preta, igual à usada pelo assassino do coronel, que vestia um coturno de cano curto – o matador chutou o rosto de Hermínio, depois de baleá-lo. Pascoal teve a prisão temporária decretada pela Justiça por causa da morte da mãe de J.V.S., um traficante que se recusou a pagar propina aos PMs, e por tentar matar o traficante.Outros dois integrantes do 18º Batalhão também foram presos: os sargentos Ricardo da Rocha Benetti e Helber Antônio de Freitas. Benetti foi indiciado por tentar matar J.V.S., que o reconheceu. Freitas foi indiciado por receptar cheques roubados. Os três se dizem inocentes.

Lima owns a black Honda Falcon motorcycle identical to that used by the murderer of the colonel, who wore combat boots with a short “barrel” — the killer kicked the colonel in the face after shooting him.

I just can’t remember offhand what it is you call the part of the boot that covers the ankle, but that is what is meant.

O coronel Hermínio havia assumido o comando do CPA-M3 em 2007. A primeira emergência enfrentada por ele em sua área foi causada pelos Matadores do 18.Eles mataram seis jovens no Jardim Elisa Maria, em 1º de fevereiro. As investigações mostraram que o pivô do delito morava no bairro. Ele teria chamado seus amigos do 18º Batalhão para dar um jeito em “uns moleques que estavam roubando na vizinhança”. A polícia recebeu em 2007 a informação de que entre os autores dessa chacina estava Benetti.

Col. Hermínio had assumed command of the CPA-M3 in 2007. The first crisis he confronted was provoked by the Killers of the 18th. They killed six young men in Jardim Elisa Maria on February 1 of that year. Investigations showed that the [instigator] of the crime lived in the neighborhood. He allegedly called his friends from the battalion to do something about “some kids who are stealing in the neighborhood.” The police learned in 2007 that Benetti was one of the perpetrators of this massacre.

Ao Estado, o soldado P., que denunciou execuções feitas por membros da Rota e do 18º Batalhão em 2006, contou que a chacina foi cometida por seis ou sete dos Matadores do 18. “Teve o pessoal que foi pra cima e teve o pessoal que teve de ficar no pano (dando proteção). Não dá pra ir todo mundo. Tem uns 15 no grupo, mas não dá pra ir os 15, pois eles “tavam” de serviço no dia. Eles tiveram de tirar a farda e um monte de coisa.”

The military police private P., who denounced executions by members of ROTA and the 18th Battalion in 2006, said the massacre was committed by six or seven members of the Killers of the 18th. “There were people who went after them, and there were people who stayed in the background (giving cover). You can’t just send everybody. You have some 15 in the group, but all 15 can’t go, because they were on duty that day. They had to take off their uniforms and a bunch of stuff.”

P. has been Godoy’s prime source in a number of stories on this subject. His anonymity as a source is not exactly one of those ambiguous cases where y0u question why he does not want his identify revealed.

Os Matadores do 18 são suspeitos de pelo menos três chacinas em 2007. “Conheço um deles: ele é psicopata. Ele tem necessidade de matar. Quando ele estava no 18, na Força Tática, o pessoal deixou ele meio de lado, porque ele era problema. Aí ele passou a matar sozinho, pois ele tem necessidade de matar pelo menos um ou dois por semana”, disse P. ao Estado.

The Killers of the 18th are suspected of at least three massacres in 2007. “I know one of them: He is a psychopath. He has a need to kill. When he worked out of the 18th, in the Tactical Force, people kind of shunned him, because he was a probable. So he started killing on his own, he has this need to kill at least one or two people a week,” P. told this newspaper.

Let me be very frank with you: Until the state can fully and clearly demonstrate control of this situation, we are just as happy not to see any SUVs marked ROTA or DENARC or Força Tática rolling through our neighborhood. If the Tropa de Choque shows up at a public event, we leave immediately.

And for that matter, there was that day on the beach in Santos watching the local PM truant squad in action, off in the distance through a telephoto lense, that left us a little uneasy as well …

This is a sad state of affairs, but there you have it. This is how we feel.

Godoy’s latest dispatch polls senior PM commanders who say — off the record, for understandable reasons — that they have received threats and fear for their lives, and documents transfers out of the command in question.

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