Militant Faustão Killed: A Spate of Violence and Arson in Retaliation

Militant Faustão Killed: A Spate of Violence and Arson in Retaliation

In a dramatic turn of events this past Monday, Matheus da Silva Rezende, also known as Faustão or Teteus, was killed in a confrontation with the Civil Police in Rio de Janeiro. Faustão was a key figure in the city's largest militia, led by his uncle Luis Antonio da Silva Braga, known as Zinho. This operation, which saw the involvement of the Special Resources Coordination (Core), Polinter, and specialized units, took place in the Três Pontes region of Santa Cruz, in the Western Zone of Rio.

During the operation, residents reported intense gunfire, highlighting the dangerous volatility of the situation. In the aftermath, a staggering 35 buses were set ablaze, 20 of which belonged to the municipality, including 5 BRTs. Additionally, at least four trucks were torched, as reported by the Rio Operations Center. A train at the Tancredo Neves station also fell victim to the arson. Tragically, a 10-year-old boy was grazed by a bullet on his knee but has since been treated and released from the UPA of Paciência.

Faustão, considered the second in command in the hierarchy of Rio's largest militia, was pivotal in territorial disputes with rival gangs. He was responsible for leading the militia's patrols in the Western Zone, enforcing his uncle Zinho's rule. His death marks a significant blow to the organization, revealing the intricate and perilous nature of militia activities in Rio.

The Rio State Public Prosecutor's Office had previously indicted six individuals in September for the August 2022 assassination of former councilor Jerônimo Guimarães Filho, known as Jerominho, and his friend, Maurício Raul Atallah. Among those accused was Zinho, the head of the militia in the Western Zone of Rio. Investigations suggested that Jerominho was targeted for plotting to regain control of the militia he helped establish. Faustão, along with other key figures in the militia, was implicated in this high-profile case.

Police estimate that Zinho's militia generates between R$ 5 million and R$ 10 million monthly, dominating neighborhoods such as Santa Cruz, Campo Grande, and Paciência. The wave of violence and arson that unfolded on Monday was a direct response to Faustão's death in the police operation.

The Operation Dynasty, launched in 2022 by the Federal Police and the Public Prosecutor's Office, followed the murder of Jerominho. Intercepted communications between Faustão and another criminal, Rodrigo dos Santos (Latrell), revealed discussions about “resolving these old men soon,” referring to the Guimarães brothers, former policemen and old militia guards. This indicated a deep-seated conspiracy to execute key figures within the organization, underscoring the perilous dynamics of militia control in Rio de Janeiro.