The Global Initiative Network


João Martins

Research Leader and CEO, JHM Pesquisa

João Henrique Martins is a political scientist, specialized in criminal economics, public security policies and strategic intelligence. Graduated in Police Science from the Barro Branco Military Police Academy and master in Political Science from the University of São Paulo, holds qualifications in urban security from the European Forum for Urban Security (EFUS) and in organized crime financing and terrorism from the Federal Bureau Investigation ( FBI).

He is currently the Researcher Leader of the project “Census of Illicit Markets” – Public platform of spatial data about crime problems which involves illicit trade, related crimes and socioeconomic data for the formulation and assessment of public policies along the Brazil-Paraguay-Argentina triple border. The Census is one of the 29 projects funded by PMI IMPACT, the global grant initiative of Philip Morris International to support projects dedicated to fighting illegal trade and related crimes.

He accumulates 20 years of experience in the area of crime control policies and transnational organized crime, with a background in three areas: police, academic and private sector. He has a singular characteristic among Brazilian security researchers as he was born and lived on the outskirts of the metropolitan region of São Paulo in the 80s and 90s. Place and time when the phenomenon of the explosion of criminal violence and the formation of the main criminal gangs such as the PCC arose in the country.

Son of migrants who escaped poverty in the northeastern semi-arid region in the 1960s, in an internal migratory flow of millions of people, they settled in places like Cohab in de Carapicuíba (popular housing blocks which represented the second largest population density in the country). Carapicuíba is one of the cities in the metropolitan region of São Paulo that staged the current criminal phenomenon, which today has become transnational. More than an object of study, this phenomenon is part of his biography, which provides him with a deep empirical knowledge about the social dynamics of the place and the mindset of the people involved.

He was an officer of the São Paulo State Military Police for almost 15 years, primarily in the policing commander on the periphery of the São Paulo metropolitan region and then at the agency’s Intelligence Center, as an analyst and adviser at a strategic level, including during crises involving organized crime in that state, and second as a professor of police intelligence, criminal analysis and public security policy courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate units of the Center for Advanced Studies in Security of the Military Police.

He developed research on the impact of illicit markets on the structure of the criminal justice system at the University of São Paulo (USP), where he works as a research associate with the NUPPS / USP Public Policy Center.

He created the Observatory of Illicit Markets of the São Paulo State Federation of Industries (FIESP), where he published the Yearbook of Illicit Markets of São Paulo (2016, 2017 and 2018), and the São Paulo Industry Victimization Survey (first works of its kind in Brazil). He served as a consultant to the entity’s presidency between 2014 and 2018.

Martins has participated in the Task Force Countering Illicit Trade of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) since 2016.