All About Guns Cops

The Professional Assassination of Marielle Franco: Truly Bad Cops by WILL DABBS

Juarez, Mexico, is just across the border from El Paso, Texas. However, Juarez is as different from El Paso as Des Moines is from the moon.

I have a friend with more testosterone than sense. He and a college buddy found themselves on the Mexican border during Spring Break several years ago with some spending money and a little time. They were young, bulletproof, and immortal, so they figured they’d wander over and spend the day exploring Juarez on foot.

Once you get off the beaten path places like Juarez can become legitimately unsettling.

These two pale gringos were having a simply grand time taking in the sights. However, in short order, they got lost. These were the days before ubiquitous GPS-equipped cell phones, so they really were on their own. Soon they found themselves in a bad neighborhood with the locals looking at them all hungry-like.

This Mexican cop is on duty during the Dia de las Muertos or Day of the Dead celebration. Maybe our cops should try something similar the next time they have to face off against Antifa here in the US. That guy is just unsettling.

Just when things seemed bleakest these two stupid American college kids happened upon a pair of uniformed Mexican police officers and innocently attempted to ask directions. In response, the two Mexican cops drew their weapons and robbed the young men of all their accumulated possessions.

In some parts of the world, human life is incredibly cheap. In 2010 Juarez, Mexico, saw more than 3,600 murders. This unfortunate slob was one of them.

You didn’t need a passport to travel to Mexico back then, so they did eventually get back over the border. However, they lost their wallets, watches, and everything else of value they had on their persons. This was their rude introduction to the realities of police corruption in a Third-World country.


It’s woke to hate the cops these days. However, like most artificially put-upon Americans, we really have no clue how bad it is in the rest of the world.

It is in vogue to denigrate and even assault the police in America these days. Quite a few politicians have built successful careers around the practice. However, we have no idea what truly bad police really look like. In America, if you get in trouble with precious few exceptions you can call 911 and some selfless guardian with a gun will show up to help you out. The rare exceptions get all the press, but when the zombies start staggering up the cul-de-sac even the most ardent police-bashing anarchist will eventually pick up the phone.

The favelas of Rio de Janeiro are hellholes of drugs and violence.

Today’s sordid episode gives us a glimpse into the dark realities of life in the favelas, the sprawling lawless slums of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In these strange spaces, drug cartel foot soldiers openly packing automatic weapons patrol the streets around police stations. The militarized police force conducts massive armed operations, but shadow organizations of current and former cops engage in extra-judicial killings at the behest of powerful figures both inside and outside of government. It is suspected that this corruption infects the Brazilian government at all levels.

The Target

This is Marielle Franco. There is likely not a single ideological position upon which she and I might completely agree. However, this lady laid it on the line for what she believed.

Marielle Franco was born in the summer of 1979 in Mare, a slum area in Northern Rio de Janeiro. She began working to help support her family at age eleven. She had a daughter at age 19 and raised the child as a single mother. Franco was openly bisexual and lived with her partner Monica Benicio from 2017 until her death.

Once Marielle Franco started speaking out about police corruption she put a target on her back.

Franco held a Master’s degree in public administration and was an avowed socialist. Her resume included qualifications as a sociologist, feminist, and human rights activist. In 2016 she won a seat on the Rio de Janeiro city council. She used her political pulpit to speak out vociferously against police corruption. This made her some very dangerous enemies.

The Setting

These Brazilian thugs are about typical of the species.

Crime in urbanized Brazil is so extensive as to be difficult for the civilized mind to comprehend. Many to most of the refugees flowing toward our southern border are fleeing such sordid stuff as this. In the face of well-funded and ruthless gangs driven by drugs, murder, and rampant unfettered lawlessness, many police organizations exceed their official mandate. It’s like a bad movie.

Lots of folks die at the hands of the cops in Rio’s favelas. In their defense, their typical beat looks more like Mogadishu than Mayberry. This dude in the yellow shirt doesn’t seem unduly inconvenienced.

Even if they originally meant well, absolute power corrupts absolutely. In the favelas of Rio, that means shadowy milicias comprised of trained law enforcement officers who undertake extrajudicial killings without due process. While many times this means dead bad guys, it also results in substantial collateral damage as well. In darker spaces, it also means that political activists are targeted for termination based upon their cultural and social influence.

The Hit

Franco’s frustrated pronouncement on social media turned out to be darkly prescient.

On March 13, 2018, Marielle Franco posted this to Twitter, “Another homicide of a young man that could be credited to the police. Matheus Melo was leaving church when he was killed. How many others will have to die for this war to end?”

The shooters in the Marielle Franco hit chose a nondescript Chevy Cobalt sedan like this one for the operation.

The following day Franco and her driver Anderson Pedro Gomes were returning home from a round table discussion titled, “Young Black Women Moving (Power) Structures.” This event promoted the empowerment of black women in impoverished Brazil. Ms. Franco’s press officer was also in the back seat. From out of the traffic a Chevy Cobalt pulled stealthily up alongside.

The HK MP5 submachine gun is a formidable close-range weapon.

The passenger in the Cobalt then produced an HK MP5 submachine gun and fired a total of nine rounds in controlled bursts. Four bullets hit Franco—three in the head and one in the neck. She died on the scene. Her driver was struck by three rounds and was also killed. Her press secretary was injured but survived.


Movies tell us that the world is covered with a thin patina of deadly trained assassins ready to gank anybody on the planet for a buck. Reality is not quite like that. Mind that trigger finger, stud.

Movies would have us believe that highly-trained hitmen accepting contracts from anonymous clients online have raised assassination for money to an art form. Reality is typically far removed from this stylized image. In many places, criminals will kill in exchange for drugs or even the right to pilfer the pockets of the deceased. In the case of Marielle Franco, however, this job truly was professionally executed.

This is the location of the Marielle Franco hit. The shooter team in this case was efficient, professional, and slick.

The kill zone was a city street amply covered with surveillance cameras. However, somebody with the skill and access to do so had deactivated the cameras covering the area at the precise moment of the hit. The cartridge cases recovered at the scene were traced to a shipment sent to Brasilia’s federal police force in 2006. Police officials initially alleged that the shipment had been stolen from a local post office though they later retracted this claim.

Roller-locked HK firearms sport fluted chambers that leave these distinctive ridges along the sides of spent cases.

The HK MP5 submachine gun incorporates a fluted chamber to smooth extraction and enhance reliability. As a result, fired cases from an MP5, or any roller-locked HK firearms for that matter, demonstrate distinctive longitudinal lines. No other military weapon in common use marks its empties in this manner. This identified the murder gun as a fairly rarefied piece of iron.

The Weapon

The German MG34 belt-fed light machine-gun was likely the most revolutionary military small arm of its day.

The HK MP5 traces its roots all the way back to the Second World War and the German MG42 belt-fed machinegun. The previous MG34 had revolutionized Infantry combat. For the first time maneuver elements were afforded truly man-portable, rifle-caliber, belt-fed firepower mobile enough to keep pace during an Infantry assault. However, the MG34 was meticulously machined with tight tolerances. This made the gun heavy, expensive, and finicky.

The wartime German MG42 inspired generations of follow-on weapons.

The MG42, by contrast, was formed predominantly out of stamped steel pressings that could be churned out cheaply by semi-skilled workers. The beating heart of the MG42 was its roller-locked, delayed-blowback action. This system utilized a pair of roller bearings that cammed into recesses milled into the breech face. The end result was cheap, rugged, and reliable.

The StG 44 rifle issued at the end of World War 2 changed the way the world made weapons.
The StG 45 was still in the developmental stage when the war ended.

In the closing days of WW2, the Germans adapted this system to drive a prototype assault rifle. The StG 45 was an evolutionary development of the StG 44 and used the roller-locked system to fire the 7.92x33mm Kurz intermediate cartridge. Allied forces overran the arms factories where these guns were being developed, but the design was subsequently taken to Spain.

The Spanish CETME shown here evolved into the familiar HK G3 battle rifle.

This effort resulted in the Spanish CETME rifle that eventually morphed into the German HK G3. This same action was rechambered for the 5.56mm, the 7.62x39mm, and, in 1964, the 9mm pistol cartridge. This pistol caliber SMG was originally designated the HK54. It eventually became known as the MP5.

This British cop is shown on a security detail in London. Pistol-caliber submachine guns are common police weapons in Europe.

The MP5 was first issued to German border police in 1966. It has since been produced under license around the world in more than 100 different variations and remains in series production today. Though its 800 rpm rate of fire is a bit spunky for my tastes, the MP5 remains one of the smoothest submachineguns ever produced. The takedown of the Iranian embassy in London on May 5, 1980, by the British SAS wielding HK MP5 SMGs on international television, sold untold thousands of the guns to military and LE users around the globe.

The Aftermath

Some of these rogue Brazilian cops are flat-out terrifying.

Brazilian police investigated Ronald Paulo Alves Pereira and Adriano Magalhães da Nóbrega in connection with the killings. Both men had been honored by Jair Bolsonaro, the current President of Brazil, for their police service in the early 2000s. Nóbrega purportedly headed one of these extrajudicial paramilitary groups active in Brazil called “The Crime Bureau.” He was shot to death after supposedly firing upon police who came to arrest him in northeastern Bahia state. Whatever secrets he held went with him to the grave.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (center) turned out to have a tenuous connection to the Marielle Franco hit team.

Brazilian police also arrested Ronnie Lessa and Elcio Vieira de Queiroz roughly a year after the shooting. Lessa was purportedly the triggerman, while de Queiroz was alleged to have driven the Cobalt. Both men were former members of the military police. One was also a previous neighbor of current Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in a gated luxury apartment complex in Rio. Both Lessa and de Queiroz denied involvement.

Some in Brazilian Law Enforcement are known to play both sides of the fence.

I read quite a lot about this sordid situation pulling this article together and still don’t even begin to understand it. Allegations of corruption run all the way up to the Presidency. Various players served together in either the military or elite Law Enforcement units and seem connected in ways that are impossible to untangle. However, the take-home point is that today’s American institutional Law Enforcement challenges pale in the face of true corruption.

This rather intense Brazilian cop packs a dead goat head as part of his web gear. Wow.

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