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October 5-11, 2023 | Issue 35 - Crime and SOUTHCOM

Martina Sclaverano, William Bos, Nicholas Novak, Agathe Labadi, Mateo Maya

Alya Fathia Fitri, Editor; Evan Beachler, Senior Editor

Brazilian Military Police[1]

Date: October 6, 2023

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Parties involved: Brazil; Rio de Janeiro Governor Cláudio Castro; Brazilian federal government; Brazilian law enforcement/police; Brazilian intelligence agency, Agência Brasileira de Inteligência (ABIN); Brazilian organized crime groups (OCG)

The event: Castro announced that organized crime groups in Brazil show a mafia-like operational style beyond militias and drug trafficking. He stated that this mafia has infiltrated state institutions, the financial system, and the private sector. According to Castro, Brazilian organized crime is creating parallel institutions such as their own court system. He promised that the Brazilian government would intensify investigations and seizures of cell phones and weapons related to organized crime.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The Brazilian mafia will likely target politicians and governmental institutions as retaliation against Castro, likely using kidnapping and assassination tactics. Organized crime groups will very likely bribe security guards working in political establishments, likely to carry out targeted attacks with little resistance. Assassination attempts such as drive-by shootings and the placement of IEDs will very likely increase, likely targeting law enforcement officials.

  • The ABIN will almost certainly increase its investigations to identify and capture the leaders of the main organized crime groups and dismantle their networks. The ABIN very likely investigates through the dark web to monitor the illicit drug and weapon trade, including exchange locations and payment platforms that lead to the mafia group. It will very likely expand its HUMINT capacity, infiltrating low-level militant positions within the group and eventually arresting local leaders. There is a roughly even chance that the Brazilian government will offer a bounty to the public for providing useful information to the ABIN regarding the most-searched-for individuals.

Date: October 8, 2023

Location: Ecuador

Parties involved: Ecuador; Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso; Ecuador´s National Service of Attention to Adults Deprived of Liberty (SNAI); penitentiary guards; Ecuador’s National Police; Ecuadorian organized crime; Ecuador's Attorney General's (AG) office; Murdered presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio; Ecuador’s presidential candidates; inmates accused of the presidential candidate’s assassination; Mexican cartels; Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG)

The event: The AG’s office opened an investigation on the SNAI and took a Litoral Penitentiary guard into custody for questioning. The Ecuadorian authorities' investigations prioritized Villavicencio’s assassination case after the killing of seven accused inmates in Guayaquil and Quito.[3] Lasso has ordered the transfer of the six additional inmates accused of the assassination for their safety.[4]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The killing of these high-profile inmates will almost certainly lead SNAI to tighten security in prisons across Ecuador. Guards will likely keep the six remaining prisoners isolated from other inmates to prevent further violence, likely until they conclude the investigation. They will likely move the remaining inmates to “La Roca,” a maximum security prison in Guayaquil, with a roughly even chance that authorities will relocate law enforcement personnel to double the prison security.

  • Ecuadorian criminal networks will very likely target the remaining suspects in Villavicencio’s murder case. The confirmed involvement of CJNG in the murder very likely helped the inmates control the prison guards and local police in the area. Security measures inside the prisons will very likely remain high in the coming weeks, and any attack will very likely come from outside the prison perimeter, likely using drone explosive devices and operating during suspects’ transfers.

  • Investigations regarding prisoner relocation are likely to begin after the presidential elections, likely increasing citizens' skepticism of the government and concern for organized crime. Presidential candidates will likely use this issue to influence the public vote intention. The candidates will very likely campaign against the incumbent party, likely appealing to voters’ intentions to switch to their platform´s proposed security plans.

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[2] Rio Governor Says He is Battling Mafias, Not Militias, The Rio Times, October 2023,

[3] Asesinadas en dos cárceles de Ecuador siete personas acusadas de matar al candidato presidencial Fernando Villavicencio, El Pais, October 2023,

[4] Ecuador removes, investigates security officials after killings of suspects in candidate assassination, Reuters, October 2023,



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