BOPE on VICE: "The Pacification of Rio"


I have to admit, as a Gun-Fighter there are a few organizations around the world that has not only caught my eye but, it is these organizations that I truly admire. Again for those who are first-time readers, you must understand that I view almost everything, especially when it comes to the gun through an international lens.

With that being said, I would urge you to do the same; because for when you do, you'll eyes will be opened to the many ways in which to train. Some of the ways will be out of the ordinary and some of the ways will feel very familiar but somehow different. Either way I will tell you like I tell every VODA Client:

"The more tools that you have in your toolbox the more you are able to create chaos on the battlefield."

So for the scope of this article, I wanted to introduce you to BOPE. BOPE or Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais which operates under the Military Police of Rio de Janeiro. It should also be noted that BOPE is a Para-Military Law-Enforcement Agency that specializes in Counter-Terrorism, Counter-Insurgency and Civil Unrest. To be forthcoming, BOPE is trained on more tactics than your average SWAT Officer.

When I spoke about BOPE years ago while giving them the praise within the context of a conversation people looked at me with disdain. Not because of me admiring them, but because I made the statement that they are better overall in regards to training, tactics, and generally getting shit done than most Police and the Military in the United States of America.

I say this because of the environment in which they operate in. Their Area of Operation (A.O.) is the Favelas primarily. The Favelas are located more towards the mountains in Rio de Janeiro away from the tourist population. There is hardly any real identical or predictive structure to how the streets flow and how the housing units are structured. To the outsider it looks like total chaos, to a Civil Engineer and City/Urban Development Planning nightmare. And it is here where BOPE shines.


CQB/CQC; which stands for Close Quarter Battle or Close Quarter Combat is something that members of BOPE have to deal with not only indoors but outside because the streets and back ally ways of the Favelas are so restrictive and compacted they have to overcome this obstacle of confinement generally on a day-to-day basis. Why is this important to know? Because taking direct fire from the bad guys can occur anytime, anywhere, asymmetrical to the position of the BOPE Operators. What I mean by this is that rounds can very well start fly from rooftops, windows, ally-ways or even on the narrow streets of the Favelas at anytime.

Favelas Courtesy of  leofotoblogg.wordpress Photo credit Johnny Leo Johansen(c)

Favelas Courtesy of  leofotoblogg.wordpress Photo credit Johnny Leo Johansen(c)

 Favelas Courtesy of  leofotoblogg.wordpress Photo credit Johnny Leo Johansen(c)

BOPE in a nutshell can be considered a High-Risk Task Force CHARGED with the duty to execute High Risk Warrants, Fugitive Recovery, High Risk Drug Bust, Diplomatic Security and Executive Protection (E.P.) Details. Other functions of BOPE would also include Hostage Rescue and Riot Control. The suppression of narcotic trafficking as well as being authorized to terminate on contact any one who posses a direct risk to the Operators own safety and to the safety of others is authorized. And I do mean kill on site anybody who is finally threatening human life. Yes, I am fully aware of the wording here (Kill), remember we are not in the United States – different country different set of rules apply here.

On the other side of the coin, BOPE is considered by many locals and people around the world to include Amnesty International and New York University School of Law as a “death squad”. Why? Because their [BOPE] aggressive stance on fighting violent crime especially when that violent crime is combined with the manufacture and distribution of narcotics.


Simply put: BOPE is a no fucks taken and no fucks given kind of Para-Military Operation. And I for one can appreciate its premise and I love that.

Another thing that stands out about BOPE is their training regiment. The training regiment for BOPE Operators are amongst some of the most intense training that I have read about in quite some time. They go way beyond the 2 mile run (US military), 1 1/2 (run US police), push-ups and sit ups. They go beyond that of Rangers and Special Forces standards here in the United States especially in their version of the course of SERE (Survival, Escape, Resistance, and Evasion).


And yes from some of my friends within the Special Forces Community they have testified that that is hard! OK extremely hard! But what makes the training more challenging for the BOPE Operator is that there's hardly any protective gear issued to the BOPE Operator. All of that and combined with the Bare-knuckle fighting only roughly 3-5 candidates out of 100 potential candidates will make the cut to become a BOPE Operator.

But even more than the training, the thing that makes me admire BOPE is that they don't let bullshit politics and politicians dictate policy on how they get bad guys. See, I get asked quite often what’s my stance on “Criminal Justice” and “DUE PROCESS” as it pertains to how we should deal with bad guys. Even more than that, by having being on both sides of the Law as many well know that I've been the bad guy and I've been the good guy behind the gun I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that most bad guys simply don't care.

They [Active Convicts] simply don't give a damn about who they hurt and how they hurt and nor do they care about the repercussions that may come about after they commit whatever crime against the person that they commit. And this is why agencies like BOPE exist to deal with these types of high risk threats in order to maintain the balance needed for peace.

Now here in “The States”, we have a little something called “DUE PROCESS”. And that's OK. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. What people have to understand is that Lady Justice is blind to everything but the color green. And being that is that way, sometimes we need a force greater than the threat that we face in order to maintain the balance of our sanity and the preservation of our lives against a force that is diametrically opposed to our agreed upon societal interest.

In short, what I'm trying to say if I'm saying anything is this sometimes violence is the answer. Even more than that sometimes extreme violence is the ONLY answer. Let me be more specific, coordinated direct action extreme violence sometime is the ONLY answer. And it is my position that BOPE delivers that violence 10 times out of 10 to those that need it the most. I mean what do you do what a person who simply does not care about Law and Order? What else do you do with people who could care less about who they hurt and how they hurt people?


Sometimes nothing beats the good old fashion dropping of a hammer on a nail that chooses to stick out and disrupt the socially agreed upon peace of a society. Now don’t get me wrong I do understand that they are socioeconomic issues that are at play here as well as political interests that are serving as a catalyst to keep up the insanity in the Favelas going. But for the scope of this article we will only examine why it is my position why BOPE needs to exist and my admiration for them as Operators and as a Unit.

Some of the weapon systems used by BOPE are as follows: 



 FAL (Fusil Automatique Léger - lights automatic weapon)

Taurus PT92

Benelli M3 shotgun

H&K G3 (my personal favorite)

It must be said that BOPE runs (uses) many other weapon systems that are not mentioned here. For BOPE this is a good thing because it allows them to have more tools in their tool box! This is why I cannot stress enough about how important it is to learn how to operate multiple weapon systems. There is more to life than GLOCK's and AR-15 so get out of that bubble. There is a whole world of weapons of there feel free to learn as much s you can! 


Faca na Caveira
Knife in the Skull / Victory Over Death





  • VICE: "The Pacification of Rio". Retrieved 4/4/2017 at 10:00 am.

  • leofotoblogg.wordpress Photo credit Johnny Leo Johansen(c)

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