The president of the elite carnival group Estacio de Sa was found dead with four shots to the chest in the trunk of his own car, police said Tuesday.
The body of Flavio Jose Eleoterio, 48, was found late Monday night by police who were checking over a car abandoned with the door left open in the Bonsucesso neighborhood on Rio's poor north side.
Police said they believe Eleoterio, who was also a state police detective, was shot inside his car and then thrown into the trunk but refused to speculate on the motive of the crime.
Estacio de Sa will be one of the 13 top carnival groups to parade in next year's samba parade.
The group only entered the parade's first division this year after being declared second division champion in the 2006 carnival, reports AP.
The samba parade is the highlight of Rio's carnival celebrations leading up to Ash Wednesday. For four nights, the city's top samba group present elaborate parades in hopes of being declared champion a distinction that brings little more than bragging rights.
Traditionally, the carnival groups were run by illegal numbers runners, but in recent years a number of policemen have been elected president of some of the city's top samba groups.