Fed Up

Marielle, Jair and militias, a web of facts exposing the president’s underworld

Two years after the councilwoman’s death, the investigation lays bare Bolsonaro’s relationship to criminals

Translated by: Ítalo Piva

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo (SP) |
Rio de Janeiro city councilwoman Marielle Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes were shot dead on march 14th 2018 - Mario Vasconcellos/Câmara Municipal do Rio de Janeiro/AFP

This Saturday (14), the murder of councilwoman Marielle Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes marks it’s two year anniversary. During this period, the inquiry has advanced in some aspects, though slowly. The points laid out in the investigation, militiamen belonging to security forces and Rio de Janeiro politicians stand out as suspects. A careful reading of the names released, reveal the intrinsic relationship between the accused and the Bolsonaro family.

Since March of 2019, former policemen Ronnie Lessa and Élcio Queiroz have been under arrest, accused of being Marielle Franco’s executioners. On October 26th of 2019, in her last act as head of the Federal Prosecutors Office (PGR), Raquel Dodge presented an indictment to the Supreme Court (STJ), that points to Inácio Brazão, former congressman and advisor to the Rio de Janeiro Budget Office, as the figurehead behind the councilwoman’s murder.

This first development, the imprisonment of the suspects, already made the nation pay attention to the relationship between militiamen, the murder of Marielle Franco and president Jair Bolsonaro. Lessa is the president’s neighbor in the Vivendas da Barra gated community, in Barra da Tijuca, on the west side of Rio de Janeiro. On social media, Élcio Queiroz praises the Brazilian strongman and shows off pictures with him.

Going Federal

While still in her mandate, Dodge recommends the case be turned over to federal authorities. This means the investigation would leave the hands of the Civil Police and Public Ministry of Ria and given to the Federal Police. That the case be made federal is an old request of Marielle Franco’s family. However, after Jair Bolsonaro’s ascent to power, the councilwoman’s family changed their minds.

“We believe that current Justice and Public Safety minister, Sérgio Moro, will contribute much more if he remains away from the inquiry”, affirmed the family via a press release. “The Public Ministry of Rio de Janeiro made some important and gains and that is why we are in favor of the institution remaining responsible for the case”, it concludes.

At the time of Dodge’s indictment, the head of the local Homicide and Protections Department (DGHPP), chief Anônio Ricardo Nunes, who is conduction a parallel investigation to that of Federal Prosecutors (PGR), doesn’t discard the possibility that Brazão is the crime’s figurehead. “This is a line of questioning we will pursue as well”, declared the agent.

Is he the figurehead?

Investigators honed in on Domingos Brazão after Federal Police wiretaps on the cellphone of militiaman Jorge Alberto Moreth, known as Beto Bomba. In a conversation with councilman Marcello Sicilliano, which happened on February 8th 2019, and released by UOL, the crony says that the advisor to the Budget Office is the figure behind the crime, having paid 500,000 reais for the assassination of the councilwoman.

“Mr. Brazão came and asked one of us a favor, who then got in touch with the guys at the Escritório do Crime (criminal militia), outside of Adriano (da Nóbrega), without his consent. The kids got to it, set up a little operation, did their homework, all looking pretty, ba-ba-ba, they stalked, they waited, pa-pa-pa-pum (gunshots). They lit her up (Marielle)”, affirms Beto Bomba, in his conversation with Siciliano.

Civil construction businessman, serving his first mandate in the Rio de Janeiro City Council, Marcello Siciliano was elected in 2016, after two electoral defeats, in 2010 and 2014, both times vying for a congressman spot. In 2016 he was elected by a large margin in Rio’s west side, areas controlled by militias, like Rio das Pedras.

In December of 2018, the City Council approved a project by Marcello Siciliano, in partnership with lawmakers Felipe Michel and Inaldo Silva, that authorized the Atitude Baptist Church, in the Tijuca neighborhood, to build a newer and bigger temple, that’s already been inaugurated. The church is frequented by Michelle and Jair Bolsonaro, who actually had a goodbye party thrown for them by worshipers, before they left for Brasilia.

In a Federal Police report, militiaman Rodrigo Jorge Ferreira, Ferreirinha, who was also wiretapped by authorities, cites the electoral dispute in the Barra da Tijuca precinct, as the motivation for Brazão to have Marielle Franco assassinated.

“The same analysis showcases another territorial dispute: the proximity between the electoral districts were Marielle Franco and Chiquinho Brazão (Domingos’ older brother) got the most votes”, the report points out. Furthermore, according to the document, the Budget Office advisor is linked to militiamen.

Chiquinho Brazão, today a federal congressman, who is a partners with his brother in a chain of gas stations, received from the Bolsonaro government three diplomatic passports in March of 2019. According to the facts gathered by Brasil de Fato, the congressman, Dalila Maria de Moraes Brandão, his wife, and João Vitor de Moraes Brazão, his son, were the recipients who benefited.

In another part of the dossier, chief Leandro Almada, who signs off on it, doesn’t hesitate in pointing out that the Budget Office advisor is the one responsible for the killing. “Domingos Inácio Brazão is effectively, by way of information and data we have available, the main suspected figurehead behind the crimes committed against Marielle and Anderson”.

While still talking to Siciliano, Beto Bomba points out other participants in the murder of Marielle Franco. Edmilson Gomes Menezes, know as Macaquinho, Leonardo Gouveia da Silva,Mad, and Leonardo Luccas Pereira, known as Leléo. The militiaman goes on to claim that police major Ronald Alves Pereira was the commander of the operation to kill the councilwoman.

One month after the conversation, Ronnie Lessa and Élcio Queiroz were arrested in Rio de Janeiro. For the Public Ministry and Civil Police of the city of Rio, the pair is responsible for the killing of the lawmaker, on March 14th 2018. They both deny being guilty, yet continue to be under arrest.

Bolsonaro and the “Office of Crime”

Ronnie Lessa, Élcio Queiroz, Mad, Leléo and Macaquinho, are on the roster of gunmen for hire of the Escritório do Crime (Office of Crime), a group of agents of the security forces acting in Rio das Pedras, western suburb of Rio de Janeiro, for more than 20 years. Mentioned by Beto Bomba in conversation with Siciliano, Adriano Magalhães da Nóbrega, former SWAT officer, is said to be the head of the criminal organization.

Murdered on Feburary 9th of this year, after a botched operation to capture him in the state in Bahia, after a year on the run, the militiaman Adriano da Nóbrega is a key figure in understanding various crimes, but also to understand the relationship between the Bolsonaro clan with the underworld of the Rio de Janeiro security forces. In a statement, the lawyer to the former SWAT officer, Paulo Emílio Catta Preta, he was killed to erase evidence.

Thirteen cellphones were apprehended with the “miliciano”, currently with the Rio de Janeiro Civil Police, and yet to be examined. Nóbrega had previously made news headlines, as he is said to be one of the beneficiaries of diversion of public funds scheme at the office of then State Representative Flávio Bolsonaro, son of Jair Bolsonaro, president of the Republic.

Data published by the government by it’s financial crimes watchdog, Fabrício Queiroz, who was an advisor to then State Rep. Flávio Bolsonaro, received 2 million reais in his bank account, divided up into 483 deposits.

In Bolsonaro’s office, worked Nóbrega’s ex wife and mother, Danielle Mendonça da Costa and Raimunda Veras Magalhães, respectively, during the times of the “rachadinha” scheme, which occurs when people working in the office of an elected official, give back part of their salaries to that very official. They both received compensation of 6,490.35 reais.

During their employment under the son of president Bolsonaro, the women received a total of 1,029,042.48 reais, having given back 203 thousand to Fabrício Queiroz, and respecting the scheme to benefit the parliamentarian, says the indictment by public prosecutors.

As a whole, Queiroz moved 7 million reais in 3 years. Between January 2016 and January 2017, the former advisor to Flávio Bolsonaro made several deposits and withdrawals totaling R$1.2 million. One of the deposits, of 24 thousand, was made into the bank account of first laday Michelle Bolsonaro.

When asked about the deposits made to his wife, Jair Bolsonaro informed that he had lent Queiroz some money, and the deposits were payment for these. He also reminded everyone, that he knows his son’s former advisor since 1984.

The friendship is also related to the close ties between Adriano da Nóbrega and Queiroz, who have known each other since 2003, when they served together at the 18th precinct of the Rio military police. That very year, Nóbrega received his first honors by Flávio Bolsonaro at the city council. The second one came in 2005, year which the former SWAT officer was tried and sentenced for murder by a jury. The militiaman did not receive the award because he was in jail.

During his trial, Nóbrega received support from an important public figure, then Federal Congressman, Jair Bolsonaro. After the trial which ended in the militiaman’s conviction, the country’s current president went to the tribunal to defend the police officer. “He has always been a brilliant officer”. In 2007, Nóbrega appealed the decision and was declared innocent. Then in 2013, he was finally kicked out of the police force for his involvement with illegal gambling.

Another important figure in the Escritório do Crime, major Ronald Paulo Alves, accused by Beto Bomba of being the head of the operation that killed Marielle Franco and Anderson Gomes, was also awarded with honors by Flávio Bolsonaro at the Rio de Janeiro Chamber of Representatives.

In 2004, the president’s son celebrated police actionsled by Ronald that ended in three deaths. The previous year, in 2003, the major was said to have participated in the mass killing of five young men in a night club. Only the officer praised by Flávio Bolsonaro has not gone on trial, whilst another four have already been sentenced.

Edited by: Rodrigo Chagas