Photo report: joint Police/Armed Forces operations in Rio

As a result of the alarming crime rates recently recorded in Rio de Janeiro and the extreme violence of the local crime war — 97 police officers killed on and off duty so far (mid August) this year – it has frequently happened that the Brazilian Armed Forces are brought to action to give LE agencies a helping hand, as in the case of major international sports events. This has again occurred in the last few weeks, mainly as a result of a serious economic crisis involving the local State Government. Since our “Firearms, not Politics” motto is still in full effect, I will refrain from discussing delayed salary payments (LE included), extremely inadequate budgets for training and material acquisition (LE included), limited political support for workers (LE included), etc (LE included here, too)… That clearly explained,  the photo report that follows shows the weaponry seen in use by civil (PCERJ) and military (PMERJ) state police agents, plus armed forces personnel, in Rio de Janeiro and the nearby (across the Guanabara Bay) city of Niterói during the last few days.

Images (higher-res here: http://imgur.com/a/E5Hjn) are all from August, 2017 actions, courtesy of TFB friend Oyoy Kanamox.

Unlike Military Police, the Civil Police are favored with not-too-complicated official use of seized weapons, in this case, an AK platform to which a very unusual, DIY tubular stock was added.

In remarkable contrast, the Brazilian Marine shown here is carrying a Colt M16 SCW (Sub Compact Weapon) fitted with a Trijicon ACOG (Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight) TA35 ECOS. The rifle’s collapsible stock is noteworthy.

These two plainclothes PCERJ agents at the foot of a hill-located, poor community have a 7.62x39mm AK (left) and a 7.62x51mm Heckler & Koch G3 in their hands. Formerly, both were criminal-owned.

The PMERJ soldier in the foreground is about to follow Army troops while holding his issue IMBEL M964A1 Para-FAL, to which some ergonomic paracord fixtures have been added to the foldable metal stock. One of the soldiers is carrying a mine detector… just in case!

The old reliable 7.62x51mm M964 Para-FAL, now in an IMBEL-upgraded MD1 version with a shorter (440mm) barrel, is still in widespread use with the Exército Brasileiro (Brazilian Army), and was seen everywhere during the recent operations in Rio and Niterói. Solid-stock, longer (533mm) barrel M964 models also remain in service.

Brazilian Air Force ground troops also participated in the recent LE-support actions in Rio, and were primarily armed with their 5.56x45mm Heckler & Koch HK33 rifles (retractable stock model, here) acquired back in the early 1970s.

The standard issue rifle of Brazil’s Corpo de Fuzileiros Navais (Marine Corps) is the 5.56x45mm Colt M16A2, and it was seen everywhere with the marines engaged in the actions referred to here.

Another Rio Civil Police gun mix: a seized 5.56x45mm Ruger Mini-14 Stainless Tactical with folding stock and, not so evident, a .30M1 Taurus-FAMAE CT-30 carbine, a model officially adopted some years ago, but rarely seen in use.

These Brazilian Army airborne troops riding the truck have an unusual combination of weapons: a 5.56x45mm FN Minimi Standard light machine gun and a couple of 7.62x51mm Para-FALs fitted with some kind of holographic sights.

This PCERJ agent has found an expedient way to add a tactical light to his Colt M16A2 Commando carbine handguard. The shoulder badge indicates that he belongs to his agency’s CORE, the special resources (SpecOps) unit.

Just a brief visual introduction to locally-made vehicles used by the Brazilian Army in the operations, the 4X4 Agrale Marruá 3/4ton transport and the 6X6 Iveco Guarani APC (Armored Personnel Carrier).

This is one of the armored vehicles in use by Rio’s Civil and Military Police to carry personnel and enter densely-defended criminal areas. The model is a local design, initially based on money transport vehicles, with enhanced armor and fitted with a large number of firing ports, plus a top-mounted fixed turret. It is popularly known as the “Caveirão” (Big Skull), an allusion to the famous BOPE (Special Police Operations Battalion) symbol.

Another armored vehicle in use both by PCERJ and PMERJ is the South African-made Paramount Maverick (2+12 seats), seen here being boarded by CORE agents.

Yessir, the “Avtomat Kalashnikova”, from different manufacturers, is a common view in police and (much more so) criminal hands in Rio de Janeiro.

Still in service with several Brazilian LE agencies, Rio de Janeiro State included, is the 5.56x45mm IMBEL MD-97 LC, a more compact FAL derivative with rotary (rather than tilting) bolt breech locking. Magazine is the standard 30-round STANAG model.

This civil police agent has given his M16A2 Commando (a.k.a. Colt Model RO735B) carry handle three add-ons, scope on top (IDs?). The handguard appears to have received some extra, improvised thermal protection.

Support from PMERJ’s crack BOPE (the SpecOps Battalion) came not only in the form of Armalite AR-10A4-armed troops, but also with an all-black backhoe used to remove concrete obstacles from community access ways.



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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  • randomswede

    Police using captured criminals weapons, that gives me wildly mixed feelings.
    The feeling that rises to the top is that; you use the best equipment you have available to get the job done.

    • noob

      Civil forfeiture? maybe there is a shortage of agency approved weapons coming in through import. I guess it is like what happens in the states, except with civil forfeiture they seize the weapons, sell them and then buy agency approved weapons with the proceeds.

  • Brett baker

    Guess it Isn’t so bad here in the USA after all.

    • Big Daddy

      Not yet, it’s coming to a neighborhood near you.

      • Paul Rain

        Either that, or it’s already come- with the difference being that the cops are too much in danger from nonsense civil rights suits to go in and clean house.

  • noob

    How can they keep the city safe if they can’t stop people using the spraypaint tool on their own faces?

  • PK

    Once again, thanks for humoring me with imgur and the hi-res photos. I truly do appreciate it!

    And of course, thanks for sharing these photos with us.

  • maddog

    very enjoyable, rather than some piss poor video. it’s like most writers forgot how to do so. i don’t know about the rest of you, but i enjoy reading. videos with bad music and poor gun handling do nothing for me.

  • Joe Schmoe

    Looks like a MARS sight in the picture with the truck.

  • Kenneth Schmidt

    A couple of years ago some of the cops were using cut-down Madsen LMG’s!

  • Tim

    Brazilian Police motto: At least we’re not Venezuela.

  • Tassiebush

    Another really interesting post!

  • ro

    buzz kill….no beads around their necks….thought it was a wild & crazy fun place

  • Requiescat in pace

    The “lost and found” guns were used by Civil Police.
    They might be almost like a gang, not really a standardized law enforcement staff.
    Note: Wearing helmet is not popular over there.

  • noob

    Use it till it runs out of ammo and then toss it. There seem to be plenty more lying around.

    • MeaCulpa

      So basically policing in Brazil is like a game of battlefield

  • bfs

    Brazil,the country of 7.62 battle rifles and non standarized “old fashion” weapons.
    But i like to see this classic rifle and carbines.

  • Alex A.

    Great article Ronaldo.
    I’m curious as to why some agencies decided to use the 7.62×51 as a standard round in heavily populated areas?
    How has the round benefited?
    Can you say how much 7.62 is carried per solider/officer?
    What do you think about the U.S. Army switching from 5.56 to 7.62? Any pros and cons?
    I ask because if anyone has real world experience it’s you. Thanks!

    • dinizserrano

      I’m not Ronaldo, but in Brazil, the politicians tryed to restrict even more calibers for LE, based in “heavily populated areas” argument, insisting in use only SMG .40 and 5,56mm in more special cases; but the gangs (obviously) has no restrictions and openly adopts hi-power calibers (.50mbg included), so, fight an enemy entrenched in bunkers and fortified roofs with real fire power with a submachine gun (considering all the problems concerning logistics and ammo you may assume – remember Brazil is a “closed” gun market, with just one ammo supplier and with massive bureaucratic instantes, and ways of cheating, for acquiring it, even for LE) isn’t very motivating… also must gunfights involves more than 150 meters easy, so it’s a very complicated issue. The vast majority of deaths involving “lost bullets” came from gang shootings, cause, including, they celebrate such things as football’s goals with full auto shootings… Yesterday the 100th police was murdered by gangs this year in Rio de Janeiro, the mass media just beat police, everyday, every hour (and imported some slogans from USA: “murderes of black youngs”, etc.), 99% of the LE guys who are at the front line considers that, reducing calibers is disadvantageous, their lives are in the line every day and for them, it’s not a question of “geekballistics”, is a question of surviving.

    • Paulo Marcondes

      My name is not Ronaldo, but I think it has to do with overmatch, availability of weapons and ammo plus the stupid laws that basically bans importing anything gun related (powder, cartridges, projectiles, weapons, accessories, etc) unless done by the armed forces.

  • DropGun25

    Shouldn’t the guy with the mine detector be at the front of the line…