Also known as the Comando Vermelho in Portuguese, the Red Command is one of the most well known and prolific criminal organizations currently engaged in Brazil's bloody gang conflicts.
But they weren't always this way. The organization when it first came around was intended as a bonding of convicts and leftist militants incarcerated within the harsh penal systems of Brazil's military regime. Certainly, they engaged in acts of crime as criminals do, but the organization seemed to be more politically motivated when it was founded in the 1970's.
As time went on, and more specifically as they gained connections to Colombia's drug Cártels they lost sight of whatever leftist political ideologies they'd once harboured and began to focus more heavily upon organized crime.
This resulted in a change of name, from the 'Falange Vermelho' or, 'Red Phalanx' to the name we see scrawled upon favela walls in blood red spray paint today, the so-called Red Command.
The organization has since ballooned in size, and as Brazil's oldest criminal organization it wields exceptional power among the poor of it's largest metropolitan areas. In the favelas under the Red Command's control, they serve as judge, jury and executioner where law enforcement seldom dares to tread.
Similarly to the criminal groups of Mexico, operators of the Red Command utilize two-way radio communications in order to report and monitor the movements of rivals, police and military. The latter being their largest threat, as members of the Brazilian military often arrive in heavily armed convoys and armored vehicles.
Despite this and the obvious threat, the gang has been known to open fire from favela rooftops and windows in an effort to resist any push the military might offer and to show them that they maintain control of the slums.
Members of the organization are young, sometimes as young as fourteen or fifteen. These are individuals who have grown up impoverished and who know no life other than what they have seen in Brazil's slums. And who know no ambitions other than those that the Red Command and organizations similar offer to them; money and a chance to get ahead - but at a high cost which often leads to a life cut short.
In spite of this perpetual state of hyperviolence, these organizations continue to thrive and their members remain fiercely proud and loyal to their comrades and the colours they fly.
Once thought to control nearly 50% of Rio de Janeiro, the group has since seen its powers diminished due to the exponential growth of rivals and the splintering of members breaking off over personal quarrels and forming their own organizations.
They are still powerful however, immensely so - and are thought to have connections not only to Colombia's drug Cártels but their paramilitary insurgent groups as well; though these days they are almost indistinguishable from one another.
In this regard one might imagine important members of any particular CV faction being trained by the FARC or similar groups in exchange for weapons or money. Similarly to what we have seen in Los Zetas training less sophisticated gangs in Guatemala or Nicaragua.
The Comando Vermelho are a horizontally structured organization however, meaning they do not appear to have any kind of central command group. Something you might not expect from their name which implies rigid military structuring; instead, they are loosely affiliated and semi-autonomous factions that all work toward similar ends. Do they war with one another like the factions of the Gulf Cártel in Mexico? It's hard to say, but members who have been accused of organizing the murders of their fellow comrades have been ousted before.
This was how one of the CV's rivals, Amigos dos Amigos was founded in the late 1990's. However, the ADA isn't the only organization the Comando Vermelho are currently at war with.
The Third Commando, their own splinter - the Pure Third Commandos and then arguably the most powerful criminal syndicate in the country, the First Capital Command are among the CV's most prominent rivals.
Where drugs are concerned atrocity is bound to follow, and we see similar patterns of extreme violence brewing in Brazil just as we have in Mexico and Colombia. Rivals are often slaughtered by the dozen or more while in prison, or left dismembered in shopping carts and makeshift cages for public viewing. A testament to the depravity of man and the utter hatred these rivaling groups feel for one another.
But for every member lost, two more seem to take their place. The Red Command boasts thousands of commandos throughout Brazil and neighbouring countries like Paraguay, Bolivia, Venezuala and the world's cocaine capital, Peru.
To this end there seems to be no end in sight to their operations, with the group only seeming to expand and grow larger with each new year.