Video: Gung-Ho Rio Cops Chase Trafficker in Chopper

By McCarton Ackerman 05/07/13

This film of the pursuit of a drug trafficker raises concerns about trigger-happy Brazilian policing.

Who were they protecting? Photo via

A leaked video showing cops' frantic hunt for a drug trafficker in Rio de Janeiro is raising concerns about the excessive use of force by Brazilian police. The video (below) was taken from a law enforcement helicopter on May 1 and shows police using heat-seeking technology and peppering the suspect's car with gunfire from the air in a densely populated residential area. The fugitive was Márcio José Sabino Pereira, a convicted drug trafficker widely known as "Mathematician." His body was found in a nearby car the day after the air raid, which police described as a "resistance killing." It remains unclear whether anyone else was injured or killed in the hunt, but several buildings surrounding the vehicle are shown being hit by bullets. Legal authorities and human rights advocates are outraged. “This image leads us to admit that there could have been a disproportionate action,” says Martin Rocha, the head of Rio's Civil Police force. Rio is facing security challenges as the city gears up to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics. Crime has declined in some parts of the city, but drug gangs and militias still hold major influence over large areas. “The so-called pacification of Rio de Janeiro is for a certain territory that interests certain investments in the city,” says Marcelo Freixo, a Rio lawmaker and human rights activist. “The city of Rio is a lot larger than this, and the areas that are not part of these mega-events are still living with the kind of images you saw.”

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.