Weapons of Rio’s crime war: the PMERJ side

In a previous post (http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2017/02/21/weapons-rios-crime-war/), TFB showed some of the weapons in use by criminals in Rio de Janeiro’s crime war, which demonstrated an apparent unlimited quantity and variety of guns available to the outlaws. On the other side of the conflict, as previously stated, the first line of defense rests in the hands of PMERJ – Polícia Militar do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro State Military Police), whose limited resources, both human and material, are somewhat compensated by the idealism clearly stamped on its members when in action. The tough urban warfare scenarios present in Brazil’s most popular city are hard to describe to anyone just sitting in front of a computer screen. Anyway, the pictures that follow, most of them  of actual operations, may give you an idea of what’s going on there (here, in author’s case).

Although there’s not such a thing as a “typical” urban warfare scenario in Rio, this image shows what PMERJ troops (here with 7.62x51mm FALs and Para-FALs) of a standard battalion have to deal with more often than not: narrow streets and civilians walking around. The concrete-filled fuel drum on the right is an anti-vehicle obstacle planted by criminals.

Street search of a suspect motorbiker by a trooper of BPChq – Batalhão de Polícia de Choque (Shock Police Battalion) shows a .40S&W Famae-Taurus MT40 submachine gun – small numbers in use – while the holstered pistol appears to be a Taurus Series 800 in the same caliber.

Picture shows the same subgun model in use by a member of a standard military police battalion. The Famae-Taurus agreement has for long come to an end.

The 7.62x51mm Armalite AR-10A4 rifle fitted with an EOTech sight is in current use by three specialized battalions of Rio’s Military Police, the BOPE – Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais (Special Police Operations Battalion), the BAC – Batalhão de Ações com Cães (Dog Actions Battalion), and the BPChq – Batalhão de Polícia de Choque (Shock Police Battalion).

The Armalite rifle also finds use with the GAM – Grupamento Aeromóvel (Airmobile Group), the rotary wing unit.

This particular BPChq AR-10A4 has been fitted with a scope, while the actual sniper variant (the AR-10 SuperSASS) is in use by the BOPE unit.

This trooper taking a firing position is using a 5.56x45mm Imbel MD-97LC, a rifle that started life merely as a FAL in a different caliber but ended up being a new weapon in its own, featuring a rotary-bolt in its gas-action system, for example. Weapon is still widely deployed.

The 7.62x51mm FAL (most f them locally made by Imbel) is pretty much used by PMERJ in different fashions, i.e., solid stock, foldable stock, long barrel, short barrel, etc. Substantial numbers have been donated by Brazilian Navy’s CFN -Corpo de Fuzileiros Navais, the Marine Corps.

This Para-FAL has received a top Picatinny rail to which the operator added a reflex sight of probable individual ownership (can you ID it?).

A weapon’s flexibility put to good, expedient use: when a bad guy is known to be in a hidden position, why not use a riot-type grenade launcher (here, a locally-made Condor AM 637 for 37/38mm rounds) to force him out? Weapon is occasionally seen carried by PMERJ in urban combat operations. Just in case…

Side-by-side use of two 5.56x45mm carbines in Rio, the Imbel MD-97LC (left) and the Colt M16A2 Commando. Commonly found in poorer urban regions, narrow paths for troops to progress in densely built-up and populated areas are a nightmare in police operations.

Field adaptations are seen here and there, as in the case of this M16A2 Commando fitted with a scope and a vertical foregrip adaptor.

This MD-97LC has also received a “dynamic duo”, scope and vertical foregrip (folded forward, in pic).

This sergeant apparently brought his own 12-ga shotgun to work, a Turkish-made semi-auto Hatsan Escort Raider to which he added a red-dot sight.

A PMERJ corporal ready to advance into unknown ground trusting his old reliable Madsen M1932 light machine gun. Originally in 7x57mm Mauser caliber, these former Brazilian Army guns were later modified by Imbel’s Fábrica de Itajubá (Itajubá Factory) to use 7.62x51mm ammo. Top-fitted magazine holds 30 rounds and is offset to the left of gun.

Closer view of another veteran Danish light machine gun still in action in Rio’s drug war. This example keeps its original foldable bipod, an expedient rubber (from tire tube!) hand protection having been tied with wire to the barrel shroud. Also note the large cocking handle and the ejection port cover open.

This trooper holding a captured 5.56x45mm Ruger Mini-14 (with an added-on pistol grip) is armed with a .30 Carbine-caliber Famae-Taurus CT-30. When introduced into large-scale service in 2009-2010, the guns presented a number of problems, which resulted in most of the 1,550 examples acquired being sent back to the manufacturer, for good. A few serviceable carbines remain in use, though, for which a vast stock of locally-made ammo (CBC) is still available.

CT-30 carbines in use by PMERJ in action in November, 2010.

A recent addition to Rio’s Military Police inventory is the .40S&W Taurus CTT40C semi-auto carbine, basically used in UPPs – Unidades de Polícia Pacificadora (Pacifying Police Units) working in lower-conflict areas.



Ronaldo Olive

Ronaldo is a long-time (starting in the 1960s) Brazilian writer on aviation, military, LE, and gun subjects, with articles published in local and international (UK, Switzerland, and U.S.) periodicals. His vast experience has made him a frequent guest lecturer and instructor in Brazil’s armed and police forces.


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  • Lord Dratsab
    • Iggy

      The Madsen is seriously one of my favorite guns, simply for fact it shouldn’t be as good as it is. It’s a ridiculously complicated mechanism that is somehow extremely rugged and reliable and can be relatively easily adapted (as in the company would happily offer it to you) to basically every standard military rifle cartridge in use at the time. And it’s built with the same design philosophy as a Vickers in that it will last pretty much forever. And it enjoys the honor of being one of the first viable lmg designs.

      • roguetechie

        It’s because each individual component is a BLOCK of finely machined steel with emphasis on the BLOCK part.

        Love me some Madsen action!

        Only thing that could make it more perfect is if it had the belt feed unit and a SAW nutsack.

        • Tassiebush

          The Madsen magazine is pretty neat though design wise. No feed lips. Just a round retention clip that becomes the mag catch when mounted. That’s got to be the most reliable feed system possible.

          • roguetechie

            Check out the Johnson LMG Tassie. Melvin Johnson had a hatred of magazine feed lips too, and with the JLMG after you insert the magazine you can immediately push through a 5 round stripper clip to fully fill the magazine.

            You could keep feeding in stripper clips as you emptied the magazine partially rather than a full up magazine swap. His company also came up with some very neat tactical gear and magazine pouches.

            It was also closed bolt semi & open bolt full automatic.

            It could also fire the full power full range m1 ball ammunition that would beat a garand to scrap.

            This resulted in a light machine gun that could do some yeoman’s work as a battlefield sniper platform too…

            In some ways the JLMG was a phenomenally versatile platform ideal for paratroops and marine raiders.

            This isn’t to say that it didn’t have it’s flaws, but it was still pretty amazing!

          • Tassiebush

            Cool points there! They both have the common thing of being recoil based actions while the madsen is long and the JLMG is short. Incredibly different manufacturing and action types though.

          • roguetechie

            Melvin, was very much a student of small arms and small arms development.

            Truth be told, if he wasn’t such an Ahole I think more of his contemporary peers would have liked him…

            *he said with no sarcasm whatsoever*

          • Tassiebush

            I had no idea he wasn’t considered good company.

          • roguetechie

            People f***ing hated him LOL!

    • And to hold the front grip with only two fingers?

      • B-Sabre

        Be vewwy vewwy qwiet….he’s hunting narcos….

  • 22winmag

    The criminals are easy to spot. They are the ones wearing uniforms!

  • Bal256

    I have to say that the MT-40 looks way better in its mp5/vityaz configuration than when it tried to look like a submachine gun SCAR.

  • PeterK

    It’s a neat post, but it makes me sad. With Brazil was a little less screwed up.

    Hope my family out there is staying safe.

  • nabab

    Alot of 308 use by choice, seems the better penetration is of a benefit in cqb. Not just for the mountains then.

    • Evandro Santana Pereira

      You’re right, nabab. Here in Brazil, both narcos and (some) policemen despise the 5,56mm as being too “weak”. 7,62mm, on the other hand, gives you respect.

      • polana

        Guess they must love their new .40 subguns haha
        Could just be psychological though the supression of the 7.62 is double. Although the average narcos physiology may be similiar to the afghans, ie skinny no muscle or fat, which posed a problem with standard fmj 556 as it needed a certain amount of both to fragment.

  • Tritro29

    I would do bad things for that AR-10A4.

  • Seth Hill

    Looking at the photos and thinking “I want one of those… and one of those…. ooooo one of those too”

  • John

    >”The tough urban warfare scenarios present in Brazil’s most popular city
    are hard to describe to anyone just sitting in front of a computer
    screen.”

    “Imagine if Robocop’s Detroit was real, and there was no Robocop. That’s Rio.”

    There. Nailed it.

  • loamnd

    The best operate lean and mean, sasr style.

  • Raginzerker

    I’m kinds interested in those 30 carbines, even though the author did state they’re recalled but it’s Taurus ya know…

  • Concerned Third Party

    Using Madsens is so epicly badass. Converted to 7.62 NATO at that, workhorses ftw.

  • Concerned Third Party

    22winmag I wonder if your AnCap wet dreams can be kept to yourself.