Thomaz Vieira Gomes has been described as one of the “most notorious criminals” in Rio de Janeiro by the International Business Times, but his latest move has some calling him a modern-day Robin Hood.
According to various reports, Gomes kidnapped two nurses from a clinic in Rio late last month to take them to one of the city’s poorest favelas (Rio’s low-income and underserved neighborhoods), Salgueiro, so that residents could receive vaccinations for yellow fever.
While the incident was technically a kidnapping, reports from Brazilian media have the nurses, who are male, saying that Gomes’ people were not aggressive or threatening and did not hurt them. Gomes, a well-known drug dealer also known as 2N, and his crew arrived in black cars at the vaccination post and told the nurses that they had to be taken up to the favela to administer the vaccines because its residents were not able to make it down to them.
There is currently a spike of yellow fever cases in Brazil, with at least 25 deaths reported this year from the viral disease. The Brazilian government, despite launching a mass vaccination drive to try to contain the spread of yellow fever, has struggled to reach everyone, particularly the most vulnerable residents.
According to Venezuela’s TeleSur, Gomes’ gang watched over the nurses as they gave the vaccines to the community. After two hours, they were driven back to their posts at the clinic.
Many lauded Gomes on social media, including Brazil’s former Minister of Environment Carlos Minc, who called his actions a “public service.”
TeleSur reports that Rio’s Municipal Health Secretariat says that it will investigate the incident.