A popular Brazilian singer has been arrested for performing at a concert in a slum in violation of Rio de Janeiro COVID rules.
Marcelo Pieres Vieira, a 46-year-old samba singer who goes by the stage name Belo, was taken in by authorities Wednesday.
‘I want to know what crime I committed. I went up on stage and sang,’ Vieira said as he walked into the police station.
Investigators seized two guns, an unknown sum of cash, and computers from Vieira’s house in the Rio de Janiero coastal town of Angra dos Reis.
He was released from a prison in the northern Rio neighborhood of Benfica.
Brazilian samba singer Marcelo Pieres Vieira, who is known as Belo, was released from jail Thursday, a day after he was arrested by law enforcement agents for performing at an outdoor concert that was not authorized by Rio de Janeiro’s state government due to the COVID-19 pandemic
The 46-year-old Brazilian singer is also being investigated for his possible ties to a fugitive drug dealer, Luiz Moura, who reportedly funded the concert
Brazilian samba artist Belo was charged with breaking Rio de Janiero’s preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19
The concert took place on the first day of the festive carnival season, which commences the Friday afternoon before Ash Wednesday. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, all carnival parties and events were postponed as a measure to contain the ravaging virus’ spread.
Video of the performance, which took place early Saturday, showed attendees crammed together and not wearing masks.
Vieira’s public relations representatives told local media outlets that the singer was informed in advance by production company, Série Gold, that it had obtained all of the legal permits required for the show to go on and that the agency had also guaranteed to follow Rio de Janeiro’s health guidelines.
According to Brazilian online portal Extra, Vieira was paid $12,000 for the performance, which took place on school grounds.
Belo’s concert was held on school grounds in the Rio de Janeiro slum of Parque União, which reportedly is controlled by a drug trafficking ring
Pictured is some of the money, computers and two guns that were seized from the home of Belo during his arrest Wednesday
Vieira told investigators he was not aware he had been hired to sing at a state-operated school, and actually thought the show was being held in the middle of an avenue.
Authorities also apprehended Celio Caetano and Joaquim Marques, the co-owners of Série Gold. An arrest warrant was issued for Jorge Moura, the alleged leader of a drug trafficking ring that has a stronghold of Parque União, the favela or slum where the event was held.
According a statement issued by Brazil’s anti-drug police department, Vieira being investigated for his alleged ties to Moura, one of the most wanted criminals in Rio de Janeiro.
Brazilian singer Belo once served three years and eight months for a drug trafficking charge
Belo with his wife and Brazilian model, Gracyanne Barbosa
‘It is clear that the stage designed is one of the most absurd possible, to the extent that the ‘contagious event’ was not authorized by the state, but by the region’s criminal boss,’ police chief Gustavo de Mello said.
De Mello added that investigators discovered a tweet sent from a burner account reportedly operated by Moura promoting Vieira’s concert appearance.
It’s not Vieira’s first brush with the law, either.
He was arrested in December 2002 for drug trafficking and only served one month of a six-year prison sentence after he was released so that he could appeal his conviction.
The 8th Criminal Chamber of the Rio de Janeiro Court of Justice turned down his appeal and added two more years to his sentence.
He was arrested again in November 2004, and served three years and eight months behind bars.