Report   DETAILS

Brazil 2011 Crime and Safety Report: Brasilia

Western Hemisphere > Brazil > Brasilia

Brazil 2011 Crime and Safety Report: Brasilia


Overall Crime and Safety Situation


Crime Threats 


Crime is a major concern in Brazil, especially in the larger cities. The Brazilian police and the Brazilian press report that crime is becoming more widespread.  Violent crimes such as murder, kidnapping, carjacking, armed assault, and burglary occur regularly.  The consolidation of power among a few large criminal gangs has led to a decrease in gang-on-gang violence; however, this has resulted in an increased focus on civilian targets.


Residential burglaries pose a constant threat and concern. According to the police, much of this crime is carried out by mobile street gangs that originate from larger, distant cities, such as Sao Paulo and Rio, and target some of the residential areas of Brasilia.  Other perpetrators are from the surrounding satellite cities and travel by metro, bus, or car into the neighborhoods looking for targets of opportunity.

Public transportation hubs, hotel sectors, and tourist areas are the locations with the highest crime rates.  Many criminals use weapons when carrying out illicit activities and often are accompanied by gratuitous violence. The Regional Security Officer recommends that residences provide solid-core entry doors with quality deadbolts, security grills on all windows, adequate front and rear security lighting, and a monitored alarm system.


Most residential properties, especially single family homes, utilize security alarm systems. These systems are monitored by local security companies who respond along with local police.  Some neighborhoods employ static guard posts to monitor activity on the streets adjacent to their homes. Larger properties and commercial sites generally employ security guard services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  


Street crime is a problem, especially in the evenings and late at night.  Caution is required when travelling at night through more rural areas and satellite cities due to the significant potential for roadside robberies.  A phenomenon called “quicknapping” is an ongoing criminal activity in which ATM users are kidnapped at gun point and taken to several ATMs to withdraw cash.


Foreign visitors may be susceptible to targeting for certain crimes because visitors may be less likely to file a police report and/or return to testify at criminal proceedings should perpetrators be apprehended by police.


Road Safety


Throughout Brazil, road conditions outside of the main cities vary greatly.  Brazil uses automatic photo-ticketing systems to discourage speeding, and tickets are mailed to the owner of the vehicle. 




The surface conditions of the roads in Brasilia are generally poor with numerous pot holes, some of which, during the rainy season, can cause significant damage to a vehicle’s suspension system.  Lighting, traffic signals, and road markings vary from good to poor.




Manaus is isolated within the state of Amazonas with no major highway system linking it to the rest of Brazil.  Within the city itself, roads are generally fair.




Roads in Recife are fair but during heavy storms, can be prone to flooding.


Political Violence


Historical perspective


Political violence in the form of protests occurs throughout Brazil, especially in the capital and major cities. These protests are held for various reasons from work conditions and wages to the environment.  While protests are generally non-violent, some have resulted in property damage and minor injuries.  Protests tend to increase in numbers and intensity during the visits of high-profile foreigners.


Regional terrorism and organized crime


There are no known indigenous terrorist groups operating in Brazil.  Brazil is a non-aligned country with no significant enemies and is not targeted by any known radical groups.  Organized crime in Brasilia and Recife does exist but on a small scale compared to other cities, especially Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, which have major drug gangs, operating mainly in the favelas.  In 2006, these gangs launched two dedicated waves of violence, centered in Sao Paulo, that were likened by many to a terrorist event; the President of Brazil has called these gangs, “terrorist organizations”.


While not political violence, the crime in Rio’s favelas is certainly a product of organized crime, mostly centered on narcotics trafficking. In Rio de Janeiro, a “favela pacification program” has begun to systematically bring favelas under government and police control.  In the past year, the security services secured the symbolically criminally-hardened Complexo do Alemao favela and have occupied nearly 20 smaller favelas.  There have been instances of large-scale gun battles in and around the favelas during some of the police operations.


International terrorism or transnational terrorism


The tri-border area where Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay come together is home to a large Arab community.  To date, no incidents directed against official or non-official Americans have occurred in this area.  Accordingly, it is recommended that American visitors to the area, to include Foz de Iguazu, remain especially vigilant and maintain a low profile.


Civil unrest


Political violence is possible in any of the major cities of Brazil.  There were several protests in the past year in Brasilia, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo. While the majority of these protests are peaceful, violence occasionally occurs. Visitors should avoid areas where large crowds are gathering or protests are on-going.


For updated information, please contact the Consular Section of the American Embassy in Brasilia, the Consular Section of the American Consulate in Recife, or consult the web sites of the Consular Bureau of the Department of State ( or of the United States Embassy in Brasilia ( ).  The embassy phone number is (011-55) 61-3312-7000; the Consulate Recife phone number is (011-55) 81-3416-3050.

Post-Specific Concerns


Environmental hazards


Most natural disasters are not a major concern in Brazil, although significant flooding does occur during the rainy season.  Flooding and associated mudslides have recently become a serious problem in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.


Industrial and Transportation Accidents


Reports of cargo theft, from both overland shipments and from storage facilities, occur frequently.  Airports countrywide inaugurated supplemental security measures, in part to thwart criminal activity targeting aviation facilities.  Road conditions range from extremely poor to good, and accidents are always a concern outside of major cities.



Quicknapping is the current kidnapping trend in Brazil.  Criminals abduct a victim for a short period of time, usually a Brazilian citizen, in order to receive a quick payoff from the family, business, or the victim’s ATM card.  However, all foreigners are vulnerable to this crime.  In Brasilia, robbery, assault, burglary, and theft are concerns for foreigners and Brazilians alike.  Criminals are determined and sophisticated, which requires visitors to be alert to their surroundings. Visitors can reduce their risk of becoming a victim of crime by varying routes and times of travel and ensuring residences are sufficiently protected (perimeter doors should be substantial and equipped with deadbolts and a peephole, all reachable windows and openings should be grilled, and grounds around residences should be illuminated).  Family members and household help should not allow anyone to enter the residential grounds without identification and prearranged appointments.  Suspicious persons or activities in the neighborhood should be reported to the police immediately.


Drugs and Narcoterrorism


The major cities of Brazil, like many cities throughout the world, experience the effects of persons addicted to illicit drugs.  This includes criminal activity, such as street assaults and robberies, the proceeds of which are used to support their addictions. Brazil is the number two consumer of cocaine in the world, behind the United States. As such, a large proportion of crimes have a nexus to narcotics.


Police Response


Police officials frequently cite lack of resources, staffing shortages, basic equipment, and morale as reasons for widely varying response times and unsolved crimes.

How to handle incidents of police detention or harassment 

Visitors should inform the nearest embassy or consulate in the event they encounter problems while traveling in Brazil, including detainment or arrest by the police.


Emergency Contact Information


Brasilia Emergency Services


Rio Branco Battalion/Federal District

(61) 3248-1335/1368 (24HR)

Police Precinct/Lago Sul

(61) 3364-3626 (24HR)

Police Precinct/Asa Sul

(61) 3245-1567 (24HR)

Police Precinct/Asa Norte

(61) 3273-0101/0335 (24HR)

Civil Police

 199 or (61) 3363-1358

Fire Department

 190 or 193





Recife Emergency Services




Fire Department




Tourist Police Station

(81) 3322-4867



Manaus Emergency Services




Fire Department




Civil Police

197 or (92) 3612-3122


Medical Emergencies


The following local hospitals have been identified by post as suitable for use by visitors to Brasilia:

Hospital Santa Lucia, located at W3 Sul 716, Conjunto C in the Asa Sul Section. The telephone number is (61) 3445-0000.

Hospital Brasilia, located at Shis QI 15, TR. 5, Lote G. The telephone number is (61) 3248-9000

Hospital de Base (Trauma Care), located at SMHS 101, Bloco A, in the Asa Sul Section. The telephone number is (61) 3325-4080/5050.

For private ground-ambulance service -- Vida Ambulance (61) 3248-3030


Contact information for local hospitals and clinics in Manaus.


Hospital Da Aeronáutica De Manaus -- (92) 3624-5953


Hospital Tropical, located at Av. Pedro Teixeira 25, Dom Pedro, 69.010.  The telephone number is (92) 3656-1441.


Hospital Adventista De Manaus, Located At Rua Gov. Danilo Areosa 139, Distrito Industrial.  The telephone number is (92) 2123-1313.


Contact information for local hospitals and clinics in Recife.


Hospital Santa Joana, located at Rua Joaquim Nabuco, 200, Derby, Recife.  The telephone number is (81) 3216-6565.


Hospital Unimed Recife, located at Av. Lins Petit, Nº 35, Praça Chora Menino, Ilha do Leite, Recife.  The telephone number is (81) 3231-3111


Real Hospital Portugues de Beneficencia em Pernambuco, located at Avenida Governador Agamenon Magalhães, 4760, Paissandu, Recife. The telephone number is (81) 3416-1122.


Air ambulance services.


For air medical evacuation services, post recommends visitors purchase private air medical evacuation insurance before traveling to Brazil.  Post can assist visitors with further information about obtaining services available.


Tips on How to Avoid Becoming a Victim


Crime is the principal threat to visitors in Brazil.  There are a variety of scams used by the criminals to rob victims, which include:


·         An unknown individual calls to say that a person you know, possibly a family member, has been kidnapped, and unless you immediately pay the ransom, the person will be harmed.  The ransom is paid, and it then becomes clear that the kidnapping never occurred.


·         A similar scam occurs when an unknown individual calls and states an employee or family member has been in an accident and needs immediate medical attention. The individual states that payment must be provided in order for the injured individual to be treated. This scam is often targeted at household staff that react without verifying with their employer.


·         Do not accept drinks from strangers, and always watch your drink.  Scopolamine, or a similar drug, may be added to your drink. People have woken up robbed of their valuables or sexually assaulted after accepting such a drink.


·         Be careful of cash transactions on the street. A hurried transaction for merchandise often leaves the customer with either shoddy/counterfeit goods or with counterfeit money.


All of Brazil:


Visitors to Brazil should practice common sense preventive security techniques, just as they would in any large city.  The following security tips should be adhered to in order to avoid becoming a victim of crime:


·         Traveling in groups of two or more persons appears to have a positive effect on deterring criminals.

·         Do not carry or wear valuable items that will attract attention.  If you need to wear expensive jewelry or carry a camera, conceal it until you arrive at your destination.

·         Be aware of the street environment, and avoid contact with those who may be looking for potential victims.  If you feel unsafe, seek a safer location.  Go into a store, bank, or simply cross the street.

·         Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.  While this is a personal decision, statistics show that resistance can lead to injury or death.

·         Be alert at open markets or crowded areas.

·         Do not answer your hotel room door until you positively confirm who is on the other side.  Look out the peephole, or call the front desk to confirm the visitor.


·         Do not walk on beaches or in parks after dark.  Assaults are common in these areas.

·         Avoid city buses and other public transportation.  Many pass through high crime areas and are susceptible to robberies.  Only use legitimate, well-marked, taxis.

·         Many residents and visitors find that renting or purchasing a cellular phone is very useful.  Cellular phones are widely available, inexpensive, and generally highly reliable, especially in the major cities.



The areas in and around the hotel sector can be dangerous, especially at night.  Also visitors should be alert to their surroundings, especially at large markets. 


The satellite cities around Brasilia are considered unsafe at night and should be avoided during those hours.




The beaches in Recife should be avoided at night.  Also, when visiting the beaches, do not leave your belongings unattended as they may not be there when you return.


Further Information


Embassy contact numbers:


U.S. companies are encouraged to contact the RSO in Brasilia for specific inquires concerning the local security situation.  Information is also readily available from the RSO offices in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, the Post Security Officer in Recife, the American Chamber of Commerce, and from the active OSAC Country Councils operating in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.


American Embassy Brasilia - is located at Av. Das Nacoes Sul, Quadra 801, Lote 3. The telephone number +55 (61) 3312-7000. Emergencies and calls after normal business hours may be directed to Marine Security Guard at +55 (61) 3312-7400. The RSO may be reached through the general embassy phone number (extension 7390). The American Citizen Service Section may be reached through extension7063 or 7471.  The Foreign Commercial Officer POC may be reached through extension 7403. The Embassy’s fax number is +55 (61) 3322-4224.

American Consulate Recife is located at Rua Goncalves Maia 163, Bairro Boa Vista. The telephone number is +55 (81) 3416-3050. The Post Security Officer may be reached through the Consulate’s general telephone number. The Consulate’s fax number is +55 (81) 3231-1906.


American Consulate General Rio de Janeiro is located at Av. Presidente Wilson, 147 Bairro Castelo. The telephone number is +55 (21) 3823-2000. Emergencies and calls after normal business hours may be directed to post one at +55 (21) 3823-2029. The RSO may be reached at extension 2908. The Consulate’s fax number is +55 (21) 3823-2003.


American Consulate General Sao Paulo - is located at Rua Thomas Deloney, 381 Chacara Santo Antonio, Sao Paulo, 04710-110. The telephone number is +55 (11) 5186-7000. Emergencies and calls after normal business hours may be directed to post one at +55 (11) 5181-7373. The RSO may be reached at +55 (11) 5186-7260. The Consulate’s fax number is +55 (11) 5186-7099.


OSAC Country Council


Brasilia does not currently have an OSAC Country Council. OSAC Country Councils in Brazil are located in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Please review their reports for additional details.