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Rio de Janeiro: God Answered our Prayers for Justice

Brazil’s capital, Rio de Janeiro, was our City in Focus back in March 2014. We asked for your prayers as the city prepared to host seven of the 2014 FIFA World Cup matches. Like other international sporting events, the World Cup is widely suspected as a breeding ground for sexual exploitation. Rio has an established sex trade in its Copacabana district, so Brazilian officials and human rights advocates were concerned that Rio’s permissive stance towards commercialized sex would promote an even higher incidence of trafficking during the FIFA games.1

Our 2014 Liberdade campaign brought a team from Exodus Cry to Rio in June, during the World Cup event. They stayed in Brazil’s oldest red-light district, Vila Mimosa. In contrast to Copacabana’s more “upscale” reputation, Vila Mimosa is poor and many of those being prostituted in the sex industry have arrived in the district “out of desperation, necessity, and a lack of real alternatives.”2

But in the midst of this desperation, God answered our prayers for justice.

On June 3, news broke that Vila Mimosa’s notorious gang leader and trafficker Anderson Fernandes Bezerra was arrested along with two other people after an extensive police investigation. Bezerra is known as “Rei das Novinhas” or “King of the Brand New.” According to police, he was charged with grand theft auto, corruption of minors, and forcing a sixteen-year-old to have an abortion. Along with Bezerra, Gabriela Noêmia Avanza France was arrested for trafficking minors at her night club. Patrick Michel de Souza Telles was arrested for his sexual relationship with a minor. After Bezerra’s bust, Officer Marcello Maia was hopeful that several other similar investigations would be successful.3

We ask for your continued prayers for justice in Rio de Janeiro and for those who are living in Vila Mimosa without hope. We are grateful for God’s victory and look forward to many more breakthroughs all across Brazil.


      1. Brown, Spencer. “Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation Potentially Problematic During World Cup.” Washington Examiner, June 12, 2014.
      2. Wilks, Lauren. “Inside Rio’s Oldest and Largest Red-Light District.” Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. December 18, 2013.
      3. France, Ricardo. “”King of the Brand New and Two Other People Were Arrested in Vila Mimosa.” Policia Civil, June 3, 2014.
      4. Additional Resources: “Rio De Janeiro : A Host City for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.” Wilks, Lauren. “Sex and Survival in Rio’s Red-Light District.” Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. November 27, 2013.

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