The leader of a Brazilian drug trafficking ring has been lauded as a “modern-day Robin Hood” after he kidnapped two nurses, stole vaccines and syringes, and took the medical staff to one of Brazil’s poorest areas in the southeast, ordering them to inoculate the residents.
Thomaz Viera Gomez has made headlines for his acts of charity in the past year, even as authorities have issued several warrants for his arrest, Newsweek reports. This latest stunt by the gang boss was to combat yellow fever – a problem that has been plaguing the poverty-stricken parts of the country – has brought him the title of hero rather than villain.
Known as “2N,” the gang leader held two nurses hostage at a vaccination center in Rio de Janeiro, and transported them and the equipment the gang had taken to one of the poorest favelas. According to local television station Telesur, Gomez’s gang members supervised the nurses as they vaccinated residents for two hours in Salgueiro. Once they had finished, the nurses were taken back to their workplace unscathed.
In a report on the incident, the nurses said that their captors had treated them well and without any aggression.
They had complied with the demands of the kidnappers, they said, because they knew that many Salgueiro residents had not been given access to vaccines or vaccination centers.
Despite the illegal act, officials have lauded Gomez’s act. State deputy Carlos Minc, a former Minister of the Environment, said on Twitter that this was actually an act of “public service.”
Rio’s municipal health department said that it will investigate the incident.
Gomez unintentionally caused a riot last year in Salgueiro after throwing bundles of cash out to the favelas’ residents. At the time, law enforcement raised the reward for information that could help arrest Gomez to around $3,000. Local press reports that he has around a hundred men working for him, and rose to power after the arrest of drug trafficker Marcelo da Silva Leitao in 2016.