By Dialogo December 28, 2010 Brazilian police have busted a feared criminal gang which killed at least 50 people and counted more than a dozen officers and some municipal councillors in its ranks, officials said on 22 December. Twenty-five members of the 34-strong gang were arrested the day before on warrants based on wiretaps that found the organization sold weapons to drug dealers in a nest of Rio slums that was cleared by police and soldiers last month. The two local councillors of the Duque de Caxias neighborhood were suspected of running the para-police outfit, while the 13 policemen arrested were part of its “muscle” thought to have carried out hits. “The gang worked like a real criminal enterprise, with roles defined for each member. There were managers and hitmen,” the police chief in charge of the arrests, Alexandre Capote, told media. The gang was one of several comprising police officers that operate in Rio’s notoriously violent and lawless slums. They started activities in late 2006, as militias that forced out local gangs then took over to run extortion rackets. The Duque de Caxias outfit is suspected of killing 50 people, and earning 150,000 dollars a month by illegally selling television cable connections, gas and land to residents, Capote said. According to a former captain in Rio’s elite police unit, the Special Operations Battalion, police-manned militias are present in more than 100 of the city’s 250 worst slums.