Title: Brazilian gangs
Hollander - May 14, 2006 10:21 AM (GMT)
Brazilian gang kills 23 police officers
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Sunday, May. 14 2006
One of Brazil's most notorious gangs staged dozens of attacks on police before
dawn Saturday, setting off gunbattles in three cities that killed at least 30
people, officials said. Twenty-four prison uprisings also were reported across
Sao Paulo state.
It was the worst assault on authority since gangsters armed with machine guns,
bombs and other weapons attacked police stations in the city of Sao Paulo over
a 10-day stretch of November 2003. That rampage also was blamed on the gang
First Capital Command, which is known by its Portuguese initials, PCC.
The attacks that began late Friday "were obviously the work of the PCC," said
Enio Lucciola, press spokesman for the Sao Paulo State Public Safety Department.
"It is trying to undermine our authority and intimidate us and the population
at large at a time when we have redoubled our efforts to destroy the
organization," Lucciola said by telephone.
At a news conference, Public Safety Secretary Saulo de Castro Abreu said police
stations, patrol cars and bars frequented by off-duty officers were attacked in
Sao Paulo and three suburbs. Stations in the coastal cities of Cubatao and
Guaruja, 50 miles to the southeast, also were attacked.
Abreu said there were 55 separate attacks that killed at least 23 police
officers, the girlfriend of one officer, a passer-by and five or six suspected
gang members. Thirty-two people - 15 policemen, 15 attackers and two passers-by
- were wounded, he said. At least 16 people were arrested.
He said the PCC was trying to intimidate police and government officials as
well as retaliate for several of the gang's jailed leaders' being put into
solitary confinement, which is one of the ways officials use to break the chain
of command with gang members outside the prison.
Hollander - May 14, 2006 11:25 AM (GMT)
Jail riots follow Brazil attacks http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...cas/4769451.stm
Published: 2006/05/14 02:46:08 GMT
© BBC MMVI
puparo - May 14, 2006 10:59 PM (GMT)
In dutch, but the body count is a lot higher already:
and they say the group was started after the 111 prisoners who were killed in the 1993 ? prison riot:
zo 14 mei 2006, 19:12
Braziliaanse bendeoorlog loopt uit op bloedvergieten
SAO PAULO - Braziliaanse bendeleden hebben dit weekeinde in de deelstaat Sao Paulo een offensief tegen de politie ontketend. Door een reeks aanvallen op politieposten en door gevangenisopstanden kwamen zeker 52 mensen om het leven en vielen vijftig gewonden. De golf van geweld is een reactie op de gedwongen overplaatsing van honderden gevangen bendeleden naar andere strafinrichtingen.
De onlusten braken in de nacht van vrijdag en zaterdag uit en duurden zondag nog voort. Het Braziliaanse persbureau Agencia de Brasil meldde zondag op gezag van de autoriteiten in Sao Paulo dat criminelen in totaal ruim honderd aanvallen uitvoerden op politieposten en patrouillerende agenten. Ongeveer de helft van de aanslagen was in de metropool Sao Paulo zelf. Bovendien braken er in een kleine veertig gevangenissen opstanden uit. Gedetineerden namen zeker honderd mensen in gijzeling.
Onder de doden zijn zeker 35 veiligheidsfunctionarissen, onder wie politieagenten, militairen en cipiers. Veertien bendeleden zijn eveneens in het geweld omgekomen. Ook drie burgers zijn gedood, mogelijk gaat het om voorbijgangers.
De gangsters vielen tijdens hun aanvallen agenten aan in onder meer bureaus, politieauto's, huizen en bars. Ook een brandweerkazerne was doelwit. Op televisiebeelden waren plassen bloed en met kogels doorzeefde patrouillewagens te zien.
In een verklaring op internet stelden de Braziliaanse autoriteiten dat de bendeoorlog een reactie is op het besluit tot overplaatsing van 765 gedetineerden naar cellencomplexen die veel beter zijn beveiligd.
De daders behoren tot een criminele groepering uit de miljoenenstad Sao Paulo die zich het Eerste Commando van de Hoofdstad (PCC) noemt. Sao Paulo is de hoofdstad van de gelijknamige deelstaat.
De PPC is begin jaren negentig opgericht door gedetineerden die in Taubaté (Sao Paulo) een bloedbad hadden overleefd. Politiemensen doodden toen 111 gevangenen om een gevangenisopstand te onderdrukken.
De groep begon als een soort vakbond van gedetineerden en maakte zich aanvankelijk vooral sterk voor betere omstandigheden in de vaak overvolle gevangenissen. De PCC kreeg er geleidelijk steeds meer macht. De groepering werft er nieuwe leden en is op grote schaal betrokken bij drugs- en wapenhandel, ontvoeringen en berovingen.
Met hulp van corrupt gevangenispersoneel hebben bendeleiders in de gevangenissen de beschikking over mobiele telefoons gekregen. Daardoor zijn ze in staat om vanuit hun cel op effectieve wijze hun zaakjes regelen.
puparo - May 14, 2006 11:45 PM (GMT)
Problem is in the underworld they get respect for it (internationally)
who is gonna quarrel with a druggang that is known to have killed in 1 day about 2 dozen policemen, prisonguards and family
I would stay out of their way!
At Least 52 Dead in Brazilian Gang Attacks
By STAN LEHMAN, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 4 minutes ago
SAO PAULO, Brazil - A notorious criminal gang unleashed a second wave of attacks against police Sunday, bringing to at least 52 the number of people killed in what one official said was the deadliest assault of its kind in Brazil's history.
Meanwhile, another 33 related prison rebellions also broke out on Sunday, bringing the number of uprisings across Sao Paulo state to 51 — more than one-third of Brazil's 144 prisons. Inmates were holding 244 prison guards hostage.
The rebellious inmates have not made any demands nor have they harmed any of their hostages, said Jorge de Souza a spokesman for the Sao Paulo Prison Affairs Department.
He said visiting relatives were inside several of the prisons but "we don't consider them hostages because they are there to show solidarity with their jailed relatives."
Enio Lucciola, spokesman for the Sao Paulo State Public Safety Department said the attacks and prison rebellions, planned by the First Capital Command, known by its Portuguese initials PCC, "were the most vicious and deadliest attacks on public security forces that have ever taken place in Brazil."
The attacks were in response to the transfer of eight imprisoned PCC leaders, a practice authorities use to sever prisoners' ties to gang members outside prison.
Lucciola said authorities were prepared for some kind of PCC attack after the transfer "but we never imagined it would be so big or ferocious."
The press office of the Sao Paulo state government said the PCC carried out at least 100 separate attacks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday that killed at least 35 police officers, the girlfriend of one of them and two passers-by. Fourteen suspected gang members were killed in gunbattles with police.
At least 72 people were arrested, "all of them with long criminal records," Lucciola said.
Officers set up checkpoints to search vehicles, and barriers were placed in front of many police stations to block pedestrians and vehicles. TV footage showed bullet-riddled police cars and shattered glass at one station.
Assailants also attacked patrol cars, bars popular with off-duty policemen, a courthouse and a police outpost on the outskirts of the city of Sao Paulo.
Witnesses to the killing of one policeman told the Folha on Line news service that two men wearing face masks approached the officer, Jose Antonio Martinez, as he was dining with his wife, shot him several times in the head and then fled. His wife was unhurt.
"We can't let this pass," Nilo Faria Hellmeister, a police officer and friend of Martinez told the news service. "We must adopt an incisive and extremely harsh attitude."
Witnesses a few miles away said two groups of men began shooting at random in front of a fire station, killing a firefighter. In Brazil, the fire department falls under the jurisdiction of the state police.
"It was a massacre," Wilson Moraes, president of the association representing noncommissioned state police agents, told the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper. "We are poorly armed, poorly paid and poorly equipped."
During a 10-day period in November 2003, the PCC attacked more than 50 police stations with machine guns, homemade bombs, shotguns and pistols, killing three officers and injuring 12. Those attacks apparently were planned by jailed PCC leaders trying to pressure authorities to improve prison conditions.
"The PCC has declared war on the State of Sao Paulo," Walter Fanganiello Maierovitch, an expert on organized crime and Brazil's former drug czar, wrote Sunday in the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper. "Like fundamentalist terrorist organizations and the mafia, the PCC uses attacks and then goes into hiding, lulling authorities into a false sense of security."
Skippy - May 15, 2006 07:12 AM (GMT)
Go to link below to watch videohttp://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,19138192-38199,00.html
Sao Paulo gang-police battle toll hits 52
From: Agence France-Presse
From correspondents in Sao Paulo, Brazil
May 15, 2006
AT least 52 people, including 35 police officers, have now been killed in Brazil after a second night of gang attacks on Sao Paulo police stations, officials said.
The onslaught against police stations and barracks began in apparent reprisal for the transfer of jailed gangsters to a high-security prison, officials said.
Video: Gang attack death toll hits 50
Video: Gang attacks target police
Thirty people, 23 of them police officers, were killed in 55 attacks throughout Friday. Another wave of 20 attacks left 22 more people dead, including 12 more police officers.
Police said there were new rebellions in prisons as well.
The attacks were carried out by the First Capital Command, Sao Paulo's largest criminal gang.
Hollander - May 15, 2006 08:51 AM (GMT)
In June 2005, PCC members supposedly threatened to kill Pele's son:
Brazilian authorities fear former goalkeeper Edson Cholbi do Nascimento "Edinho," son of soccer legend Pele, and arrested for his supposed links to drug traffic, be assassinated in jail by members of a rival ring, according to local reports on Wednesday.
Soccer legend Edson Arantes do Nascimento, popularly known as Pele, cries during a news conference in a police station in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Tuesday, June 7, 2005. Edson Cholbi Nascimento, the son of Pele, was arrested Monday in an operation to dismantle a drug gang in southeastern Brazil, police said. Nascimento, 35, was arrested along with some 50 other people after an eight-month investigation into a cocaine trafficking operation in the port city of Santos, some 44 miles (70 kilometers) southeast of Sao Paulo, said Antonio Carlos Silveira, a spokesman for Sao Paulo's state police. [AP]
The prison authorities until now have not ordered taking Pele's son from the police station, where he has been kept for nine days, to a common prison, fearing he could be assassinated as part of a vendetta.
This was mentioned after the police intercepted telephone call from members of a jail mafia, supposedly threatening to kill the members of the criminal organization with which Edinho had ties.
Edinho, goalkeeper of Santos in the 1990s, was arrested last week on Monday along with 51 other individuals in an operation against a drug-trafficking ring in the cities of Santos, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
The Brazilian police said it has recordings showing Edinho had links with pusher known as Naldinho, accused of leading such criminal organization.
Naldinho, who also was arrested, would be the leader of a ring that is the rival of the group known as the First Capital Command (PCC), one of the biggest criminal organizations of Brazil, operating in the jails of Sao Paulo state's prisons.
According to police sources cited by daily O Dia, PCC members, whose telephone conversations were recorded, supposedly threatened to kill Naldinho and Pele's son.
Although Edinho has admitted he did wrong to relate himself with pushers, and accepted to spend three years in jail, his lawyers claim evidence against his client is not enough to prove his ties with Naldinho's band.
Hollander - May 15, 2006 09:01 AM (GMT)
Brazil's mighty prison gangs
Organised gangs - so ubiquitous in Brazilian jails that many experts believe criminals virtually run the country's prison system - are said to be behind the current rioting.
One of the most prominent of them is the First Command of the Capital (PCC).
It was formed in Sao Paulo by prisoners who survived one of Brazil's worst jail massacres in the early 1990s, when the police killed 111 inmates to put down a riot.
The group began as a kind of inmates' union, demanding better conditions in Brazil's brutal, overcrowded prisons.
The PCC gradually took control of many jails, using them as recruiting grounds.
Prisoners are reportedly inducted into the gang through an initiation ritual that includes a promise to kidnap officials.
Over the years the group evolved into a formidable criminal organisation, involved in drug and arms trafficking, kidnappings, and robberies - as well as prison riots.
The power of the PCC - both inside and outside prisons - has been heightened in recent years by the availability of mobile phones.
Gang leaders get phones smuggled through heavy prison security with the help of corrupt guards - and thus are able to run their criminal activities from the safety of their cells.
Criminals have learned the language and organising methods of left-wing revolutionaries
In 2001, the PCC was believed to have been behind riots launched simultaneously at 24 prisons across Sao Paulo state.
Uprisings have continued unabated. In June 2005 the PCC spearheaded a revolt at a notorious detention centre north-west of Sao Paulo - shortly before it was pulled down.
The mutineers overpowered guards and killed five fellow inmates, whose decapitated heads were waved from the prison's roof.
Since the start of 2006, the state authorities say the PCC has orchestrated rebellions in dozens of prisons. According to a wardens' union, more than 460 guards have been taken hostage.
The latest attack occurred on 13 May, when a wave of unrest both on the streets and inside 18 prisons across the state left at least 30 dead. Most of the victims were police officers.
Officials said the attacks were the PCC's response to the decision of the state government's move to isolate its leaders in different prisons.
Fuel to fire
Co-ordination between gang members is not just the result of technological innovation.
BBC regional correspondent Tom Gibb says that during the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil until 1985, criminals learned the language and organising methods of left-wing revolutionaries with whom they shared prison cells.
The same merging of criminal and political activities has been observed in other Latin American countries.
In Colombia, Peru and central America left-wing guerrillas were able to organise and recruit inside prisons during the 1980s.
Today jails across central America are filled with members of street gangs.
Once again, many warn that hard-line government policies in countries like El Salvador - with long jail sentences for simply belonging to a gang - are backfiring.
The prisons, far from resolving the problem of organised crime, may be adding fuel to the fire, our correspondent says.
Hollander - May 16, 2006 08:37 AM (GMT)
Criminal army steps up campaign of terror to defy police crackdownhttp://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2181963,00.html
Hollander - May 17, 2006 08:47 AM (GMT)
33 gang members killed in Brazil
South America's largest city living in fear
Wednesday, May 17, 2006 Posted: 0450 GMT (1250 HKT)
SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) -- Police killed 33 suspected gang members and searched motorists at roadblocks as officers sought to quell a wave of attacks on police stations, courts and buses that had plunged South America's largest city into fear.
While gang attacks fell off sharply Tuesday, the death toll since the violence began Friday soared to 133 as police struck back at the gangs who had rampaged to protest the prison transfer of their leaders.
Officers "acted within the law, but that doesn't mean we have to let them humiliate us," Marco Antonio Desgualdo, a top Sao Paulo state law enforcement official, told reporters. He did not give specifics about the killings.
Authorities said 33 suspected criminals were killed Tuesday, bringing to 71 the number of suspected gang members killed since Friday night, Sao Paulo's state government said in a statement. The statement said 40 police officers and jail guards and four civilians were also killed.
Nine inmates died in the jails administered by the state government's public security agency, said spokeswoman Carolina Farias. And nine prisoners died in prisons overseen by the state government's separate penitentiary division, the agency said in a statement. Neither Farias nor penitentiary spokesman Marcelo Daniel knew how they died.
With guns drawn Tuesday, plainclothes police in a suburb of South America's largest city stopped and frisked motorists in a hunt for more gang members.
The crime spree showed the strength of organized crime in the financial and industrial heart of Brazil, and it sent fear rippling through the metropolis of 18 million.
Police in Osasco, 10 miles (15 kilometers) from the center of Sao Paulo, were targeting motorcyclists with passengers for spot checks after one of their own was shot and killed by a gunman on the back of a bike, said Officer Vladimir Storel. The dead officer was the only policeman killed this year in the suburb of 1 million.
"We're only out here because of the attacks," said Storel, surrounded by fellow policemen wielding pistols, shotguns and Uzi submachine guns. They patted down riders and checked IDs against a list of suspected gang members.
Across Sao Paulo, police were redeployed in greater numbers to halt the attacks, and authorities said at least 115 people had been arrested since Friday night.
But many citizens said the ferocity of the First Capital Command gang, or PCC, made them doubt law enforcement will ever solve the gang problem.
Some Sao Paulo residents said they have a new fear: being seen near police officers who could be targeted by attackers.
"Now you get scared when you pass police," said bank manager Cleide Boeing, 45. "I trying to stay away from the police now."
Using machine guns and grenades, gang members attacked dozens of police installations, burned scores of buses and vandalized 15 bank branches over the weekend. Inmates took over 73 prisons and held more than 200 guards hostage. The violence finally ebbed Tuesday morning, but Sao Paulo residents said they were still stunned.
"It's a civil war," said Manuela Nascimento, a 24-year-old newsstand worker. "I leave my house scared and go to work scared."
In other South American countries like Venezuela, Peru and Paraguay, organized crime gangs keep a low profile as they smuggle drugs abroad.
The PCC, however, has focused on the booming local drug trade in Sao Paulo, where recruits are easy to find in crime-ridden slums.
The violence was triggered Thursday by an attempt to isolate the gang leaders -- who control many of city's teeming, notoriously corrupt prisons -- by transferring eight to a high-security facility.
The gang leaders reportedly used cell phones to order the attacks.
Sao Paulo's two leading newspapers reported Tuesday that authorities cut a deal with the gang to stop the attacks -- claims Desgualdo strongly denied.
But crime experts said such a deal sounded plausible, given the growing strength of the gang, which was formed in a prison in 1993 and has since expanded to between 10,000 and 30,000 members.
"I am sure that despite official denials, authorities negotiated an end to the uprisings and attacks," said Walter Fanganiello Maierovitch, Brazil's former drug czar.
Sao Paulo appeared to be returning to normal Tuesday. There were far fewer reported attacks Monday night and Tuesday, compared to 181 over the previous four days.
Bus service was fully restored after panicked drivers stayed home Monday over fears they might be attacked, leaving 2.9 million people scrambling to find a way to work.
moribundo - May 18, 2006 05:52 PM (GMT)
It seems that the PCC has partly won!!
The well known spainish quality newspaper EL PAIS, probaplly the best spanish one, reports that a pact between the PCC and Sao Paulo state governement ended the crisis.
Las bandas de São Paulo ponen fin a la revuelta tras pactar con las autoridades Añadir a Mi carpeta
Las cuatro jornadas de violencia dejan al menos 133 muertos y pérdidas millonarias
JORGE MARIRRODRIGA - São Paulo
EL PAÍS - Internacional - 17-05-2006
El móvil, arma peligrosa
Una serie de llamadas telefónicas realizadas por los cabecillas de la organización criminal Primer Comando de la Capital (PCC) pusieron fin ayer a cuatro días de terror en la ciudad de São Paulo y en varias cárceles de Estado brasileño del mismo nombre, que se han saldado con 133 muertos y más de 100 detenidos, además de millones de dólares en pérdidas. El Gobierno de São Paulo negó que hubiera negociado con los delincuentes ninguna medida de gracia; sin embargo, los medios locales daban los detalles del acuerdo alcanzado para terminar con la revuelta.
A primera hora de la mañana y casi de una manera simultánea, los prisioneros de 87 cárceles liberaron a los más de 300 rehenes que tenían en su poder y volvieron a sus celdas. Para ese momento, los habitantes de São Paulo, la ciudad más grande del hemisferio sur, trataban de retomar la normalidad después de una noche marcada por el miedo a que se repitieran los incidentes que desde el viernes habían convertido las calles de la megalópolis en un campo de batalla al caer el sol.
Una situación a la que no han podido hacer frente los 130.000 policías a las órdenes del Gobierno de São Paulo. Hasta la tarde de ayer se habían contabilizado 274 ataques contra bancos, centros comerciales, vehículos y comisarías. Entre las víctimas mortales hay 22 policías militares, 9 policías civiles, 8 agentes de prisiones y 4 civiles tomados como rehenes. En teoría, los demás de la lista son delincuentes, aunque ayer se produjeron denuncias sobre disparos indiscriminados realizados por las fuerzas de seguridad.
Tras rechazar la ayuda de 4.000 agentes especiales ofrecida por el Gobierno de Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, el gobernador de São Paulo, Claudio Lembo, veía cómo en la noche del lunes (madrugada de ayer en España) la situación volvía a estar fuera de control. Entre tres y cinco millones de personas trataban de regresar a sus domicilios por cualquier medio después de que seis empresas de autobuses ordenaran a sus conductores volver a las cocheras para evitar los ataques con bombas incendiarias, que destruyeron más de 60 vehículos. Numerosos colegios recomendaron a sus alumnos marcharse a casa pasado el mediodía y los locales comerciales -incluidos los situados a pocos metros del Ministerio de Seguridad Pública- adelantaron la hora de cierre. El sistema de telefonía móvil quedó colapsado ante el aumento de las llamadas debidas a que los habitantes de la ciudad trataban de averiguar dónde se encontraban sus familiares. Los restaurantes, cines y lugares de ocio quedaron vacíos y apenas había tráfico por las calles de la ciudad, normalmente atestadas a cualquier hora.
A pesar de la negativa oficial, las emisoras de radio y televisión informaban prácticamente al minuto de la marcha de las negociaciones con los líderes del PCC, y ayer a primera hora la organización criminal desactivó la protesta. Entre otras condiciones, a los delincuentes se les garantizó que las fuerzas de choque de la policía no entrarían en las cárceles para acabar con los motines, que se relajará el régimen de visitas de los familiares a las cárceles y que se aplicará un "régimen de adaptación" (unas condiciones menos duras) a los 765 prisioneros que iban a ser trasladados a un penal situado a 620 kilómetros al oeste de la capital, hecho que dio comienzo a la revuelta. Con este traslado, las autoridades penitenciarias trataban de obstaculizar la planificación de las acciones del crimen organizado que protagoniza el PCC.
"Me cuesta creer que en un Estado como São Paulo, el más rico de la federación, la capital económica del país, sea necesario negociar para alcanzar la tranquilidad de la población. El Estado no puede acobardarse ante la presión de los marginales", subrayó Pedro Franco de Campos, ex ministro de Seguridad de São Paulo, quien añadió que "esto se veía venir".
El director del Departamento Estatal de Investigación del Crimen Organizado (DEIC), Godofredo Betancourt, añadió que la estrategia que se ha seguido en la crisis no es la acertada ya que, en su opinión, se pone "demasiado" empeño en atender las demandas de los presos en las cárceles. "Llegó un momento en el que la propia Secretaría del Interior percibió que los presos querían mucho más de lo que se les podía dar. En ese momento percibimos ciertos movimientos y decidimos aislar a los cabecillas… para evitar justamente lo que ha terminado pasando". Un portavoz de la policía negó ayer tajantemente cualquier negociación y recalcó que el fin de la revuelta se ha debido exclusivamente a la actuación policial.
El móvil, arma peligrosa
La rebelión protagonizada por el Primer Comando de la Capital (PCC) ha puesto sobre la mesa una antigua advertencia de los funcionarios de prisiones de São Paulo y es que el arma más peligrosa de los delincuentes que están en prisión ni dispara, ni pincha, ni corta: es el teléfono móvil.
Con este aparato, el casi centenar de motines registrados en los últimos cuatro días fue coordinado en menos de una hora, en una secuencia que el PCC ya había ensayado con éxito en ocasiones anteriores. La policía brasileña también cree que los ataques producidos en el interior de la ciudad -tanto las zonas escogidas como la naturaleza de los objetivos- fueron dirigidos desde el interior de las cárceles mediante los teléfonos móviles.
El Gobierno de São Paulo se reunió en la madrugada de ayer, hora peninsular española, con los representantes de las principales operadoras telefónicas del Estado paulista para exigirles que de alguna manera bloquearan las señales. Las empresas advirtieron al Ejecutivo del caos que podría generar un bloqueo de este tipo y recordaron que es obligación de las autoridades penitenciaras impedir el acceso de los teléfonos móviles a las prisiones.
Hollander - May 19, 2006 10:37 AM (GMT)
Brazil Police, Gangs Continue Shootouts
Friday May 19, 2006 3:31 AM
AP Photo XVC103
By ALAN CLENDENNING
Associated Press Writer
SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) - Police kept up running gunbattles with criminals across Sao Paulo on Thursday, the latest in a week of gang violence that has cast a shadow over election-year politics.
With the death toll hitting 170, critics are blaming President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for failing to deliver on his promises to improve the lives of the poor, long been ruled more by heavily armed organized crime groups than by authorities.
But his main opponent, former Sao Paulo state Gov. Geraldo Alckmin, is also taking heat for failing in his five years in office to stamp out the ruthless First Capital Command gang that launched the attacks across Brazil's most populous state.
Both sides face political repercussions from stark television images of buses torched by gang members, police cruisers riddled with bullets and funerals of both police officers and innocents caught in the crossfire.
``This will have a nationwide impact because many other cities in Brazil have had waves of violent attacks,'' said David Fleischer, a political scientist at the University of Brasilia. ``Brazilians are very conscious about how violence can affect their daily lives.''
Amid criticism by human rights groups that officers were exacting savage payback against the gangs, more scattered clashes between criminals and police were reported Thursday.
The death toll of police, suspected criminals and bystanders skyrocketed since the First Capital Command started attacking police last Friday, in violence unlike anything this city has seen before.
In violence overnight that lasted through Thursday morning, police killed 14 suspected criminals in clashes, bringing the official seven-day death toll to 107 suspected criminals, 41 police and prison guards, 18 inmates and four civilians, according to a police statement.
Silva is expected to announce his re-election bid for the October vote within weeks at a time that violence is reminding Brazilians that politicians, police and the judicial system have failed miserably to control gang activity driven by a booming drug trade.
Some say the problems run even deeper - exposing racism and the profound divide between rich and poor in Latin America's largest economy.
Dozens of poor families who haven't seen their relatives in days showed up Thursday at the city's main morgue to see photos of the 40 young men killed by police - and perhaps find relatives, because the dead have not been identified.
Some also were hoping to identify the bodies of bystanders caught up in the violence.
Hamilton Guadino, 64, dropped off his neighbor, whose daughter had been killed in a carjacking.
``They just came up, smashed the window and shot her,'' he said. ``It doesn't make sense.''
Guadino blamed Sao Paulo's violence on a decades-old culture of corruption, exemplified by the scandal that forced the resignations of Silva's chief of staff and finance minister. The scandal involved lawmakers who allegedly were bribed to support the ruling party in Congress.
``They don't have money for social programs or prison security, but they have money for the mensalao,'' he said. ``I guess it's our fault, we vote for them. But none of them are worth anything.''
In a cemetery in a working class neighborhood miles from Sao Paulo's center, distraught relatives and friends of 17-year-old Wesley Rodriguero buried him in a simple wood casket painted black.
They said he was shot three times in the back by police while running away Tuesday from a shootout he had stumbled across. Police have released no details about any of the killings by their officers.
Just a few minutes after the casket was lowered into the ground, six officers pulled up to the cemetery with shotguns and pistols drawn, and frisked about 20 of the dead man's male relatives and friends.
An officer said they were told the mourners brought guns to the cemetery. Police left after finding none.
``There's no justice,'' fumed Rodriguero's older sister, Daniela. ``This war will never end.''
GangstersInc - May 22, 2006 04:12 PM (GMT)
Brazilians Protest Against Gang Violence, Corruption
Monday, May 22, 2006
SAO PAULO, Brazil — Brazilians angered by gang violence that rocked South America's largest city demonstrated across the country, with many blaming the bloodshed that left 172 people dead on rampant corruption.
Lawmakers were also focusing on corruption as they investigated a leak from a closed-door congressional session that may have tipped the First Capital Command gang in advance about police plans to break the gang's influence by transferring of hundreds of their members to far-flung prisons. A hearing was scheduled for Tuesday.
Two days after the leak, gang leaders behind bars sent orders to their "soldiers" to attack on the outside. Forty-one police officers and prison guards were killed, dozens of city buses were torched simultaneous prison rebellions broke out across Sao Paulo state, Brazil's most populous.
Demonstrators declared Sunday a "Day of National Dignity" in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and other major cities, where protesters decried the failure of politicians to crack down on organized crime.
"We're really protesting corruption," said Gabriela Campos Paulino, who was organizing the Sao Paulo march. She said demonstrators were honoring slain police officers during the march.
"Corruption generates this type of lack of governance and lack of security," she said.
Between 1,500 and 2,000 protesters showed up for the march in Sao Paulo, according to police estimates. In Rio de Janeiro about 200 to 300 protesters gathered, holding a minute of silence for those killed in the violence.
Two days before the First Capital Command launched the May 12 attacks that triggered the violence, top Sao Paulo police officials told lawmakers in a secret session in the capital of Brasilia that they planned to transfer gang members to other prisons in a bid to break the gang's power.
But an audiotape of the session was sold for less than US$100 to lawyers who represent gang leaders, leading to speculation that the gang knew in advance about the transfers. A Brazilian congressional committee on Tuesday will question the lawyers about the tape.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, meanwhile, on Sunday made his first visit to Sao Paulo since the city was hit by a wave of gang attacks on police and said that the violence could not be stopped by simply beefing up the police presence.
Silva said Brazilians have to address the roots of the violence.
"This problem of violence is cultural and needs a lot more than police," the leftist president said at the inauguration of a new union hall. "Why are the bandits free to do what they want and we don't have control? Why do lawyers not want to be searched when they visit prisoners? We need to meditate more deeply over a solution."
Silva said that Sao Paulo state Gov. Claudio Lembo, a member of the opposition Liberal Front Party, "couldn't have done any more than he did."
Lembo was quoted in Sunday's Estado de S. Paulo newspaper acknowledging for the first time that police may have committed abuses as they reacted to killings of their comrades.
The gang shot police on the streets, at their stations, in their homes and at afterwork hangouts in reprisal for the attempt to transfer jailed gang leaders.
Over the following days, police struck back, killing 109 suspected criminals, many in unclear circumstances. Eighteen prison inmates and four bystanders also were killed.
Human rights groups said they feared police may have killed innocent bystanders in their subsequent crackdown.
"I hope there weren't innocent people killed," Lembo told the newspaper. "But it is such a difficult moment for the police with confrontations that occurred and it is eventually possible that some innocents were killed."
GangstersInc - May 22, 2006 04:13 PM (GMT)
VIOLENCE IN LATIN AMERICA
The Mafia's Shadow Kingdom
By Jens Glüsing in Rio de Janeiro
The recent violence in Sao Paulo may just be the tip of the iceberg: In many parts of Brazil and indeed across Latin America, governments have capitulated to gangsters, and the rise of organized crime could end the recent leftward shift across Latin America.
Garbage containers block the road into the slum district Vigario Geral, one of the most dangerous favelas in Rio de Janeiro. A visitor approaches the barricade, and two youths appear from the shadow of a nearby building. They're carrying machine guns, and handguns are tucked into their pants. "You want to go to church, right?" the older of the two asks the stranger politely. "We'll take you there -- we're registered."
A boy rolls the containers aside. The youths deposit their Kalashnikov rifles on the backseat of a taxi and direct the driver through the labyrinthine streets. Father Marco Freitas receives his guest in front of the congregation room of Assembleia de Deus, a Protestant sect. The priest knows the two youths: "They respect me; they often come to the service. It's only during police raids that things get dangerous."
But police raids rarely occur. "We're usually warned in advance," the youths point out. They escort the visitor back to the highway onramp and say goodbye. This is where their territory ends and the Brazil of law and order begins -- the Brazil of "asphalt," as the drug mafia calls it.
The slum Vigario Geral is part of a shadowy kingdom of drug gangs and their heavily armed footmen. The territory isn't marked on any map. Paramilitary gangsters control most of Rio's roughly 700 favelas. Drug bosses decide whether the electricity company installs a new power line or not; they decide when the pre-school closes and who can visit the priest. They've built a parallel government -- like the ones in Sao Paulo prisons, the slums of Caracas and Medellin, and the streets of Acapulco and Mexico City.
Organized crime is on the rise across Latin America. The most important mafia organization in Rio calls itself "Comando Vermelho" ("Red Command"); its main source of revenue is drug dealing in the favelas. Sao Paulo is controlled by the PCC (the "First Command of the National Capital"). Its areas of expertise include bank robberies and cargo theft; it also controls the drug trade in the prisons.
Gangs of kidnappers spread fear and terror in Caracas and Mexico City. Cocaine cartels control the area around Mexico's northern border. El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are the territory of the "Maras," adolescent street gangs that live mainly off extortion. The paramilitaries and guerrillas of Columbia support themselves by raising money through kidnappings and drug trading.
Moving backwards in history
An entire continent is slipping backwards in time. The spread of violence and crime show that large parts of Latin America are far from joining the leading industrial nations of the Western hemisphere. In constantly expanding their power, the gangs demonstrate the weakness of the region's governments; wherever there is a power vacuum, the gangs take over. "Organized crime can only survive as long as it escapes punishment," says Alba Zaluar, a Brazilian researcher who specializes in the study of violence, "so it creates its own territories in order to assure that it won't be punished there."
Latin America's often decrepit democracies are easy prey. The court system barely functions in most countries; the police are often corrupt and cooperate with drug dealers. Many politicians can be easily bribed, and parliamentary positions are perceived as opportunities for self-enrichment.
Last week's events demonstrate just how powerful the gangs of Sao Paulo have become -- gangster squads plunged Latin America's largest city into a state of terror for days. They carried out 293 attacks, murdering 41 policemen and security officers, burning 83 buses and firing gunshots at subway stations and fire departments. The terrified police reacted unusually violently, shooting 107 suspects in seven days. Many of the city's residents no longer dared to leave their homes. Schools and stores closed for fear of violence. The bustling metropolis turned into a ghost town.
The PCC gang was responsible for the terror. Its boss, the incarcerated bank robber Marcos Willians Herbas Camacho, a.k.a. "Marcola," wanted to resist his transfer to a high-security prison. He coordinated the attack on the government from his mobile phone, and called for mutinies in 73 PCC-controlled prisons.
The government capitulated after several nights of terror. A government delegation visited the mafia boss in his prison, 600 kilometers (373 miles) away from the capital. The delegation promised to provide imprisoned PCC members with 60 televisions and to permit them to watch the football World Cup. It allowed the gang bosses to receive "intimate visits" from their girlfriends and wives, and decided they would no longer be required to wear prison uniforms. The violence ebbed after only a few hours, both outside and inside the prisons. Marcola had told his men to back off.
The stuff that myths are made of
Such victories are the stuff that myths are made of. The gangs continue to recruit their often underage killers -- "Bin Ladens," they call them -- from among the hundreds of thousands of unemployed adolescents in the slums on Sao Paulo's periphery. Hymns are sung to Marcola and the PCC. The motto Sao Paulo's secret rulers have chosen for themselves is taken from Alexandre Dumas's Three Musketeers -- "All for one, one for all."
This romantization of crime has cast its spell over all of Latin America. For most adolescents, the classic Latin American idol is no longer the left-wing guerrilla, but the gang member. Mexican musicians glorify the drug bosses in popular songs, or "narco-corridas." Cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar, shot on the run in 1993, is celebrated as a national hero in many of the slums of Medellin, Columbia.
Prisons are among the most important hotbeds of mafia activity. Latin America's overcrowded penitentiaries are veritable "schools of crime," according to Zaluar. The gangsters decide who lives and who dies. Traitors and snitches are decapitated.
The strict organizational structure of the mafia gangs is based on that of left-wing guerrillas. Members of the Columbian FARC guerrilla group work as advisors to Rio's drug mafia. PCC leader Marcola prides himself on having read "The Art of War," a classic penned by Chinese General Sun Tzu 500 years before Christ. The prisons where he recruits his followers are referred to by him as "faculties," and the PCC itself is the "Party of Crime."
In Brazil, the advance of organized crime is causing problems for President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva's reelection campaign. In the lead-up to October's election, the president had hoped to position himself as the leader of a booming and politically stable, newly industrializing country. Now Brazil's old woes -- corruption and violence -- are catching up with him. The chaotic conditions in Sao Paulo are making foreign investors think twice about investing in Brazil -- and Lula, who always wanted to be a mediator, must now present himself as a tough fighter against the mafia.
An end to Latin America's leftward shift?
The spread of organized crime may well put an end to the leftward shift the continent has seen during the last few years. In Columbia, an international center of narcotics trafficking, voters are expected to reelect right-wing President Alvaro Uribe next weekend -- a proponent of law and order. In Mexico, where the fight against organized crime is dominating the election campaign, conservative candidate Felipe Caldéron has displaced left-wing populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador as the most popular presidential candidate in elections to be held in July.
Even Venezuela's Caudillo Hugo Chavéz, the showcase politician of the Latin American left, will eventually stumble over "the disorder in his own country," predicts US economist Norman Gall, who has lived and taught in Latin America for years. Caracas is now considered the most violent city on the continent. Not only does Venezuela have the highest murder rate in the world, according to a recent United Nations study, but that rate tripled between 1998 and 2005.
An especially brutal crime caused a wave of anti-government demonstrations: Three children aged 12, 13 and 17 were kidnapped along with their chauffeur at the end of February; their corpses were found after more than 40 days. They had been killed by shots to the back of the head, execution style.
The demonstrators accused Chavez of neglecting the fight against crime and corruption. "Many people voted for Chavez because they hoped he would act against the violence," says security expert Marcos Tarre. "But the government has not developed a clear policy in this area."
Even as Chavez supplies allied governments across the world with cheap oil, terror rules on the streets of Caracas. In Petare, the country's largest slum, many people refuse to leave their houses at night for fear of the violent youth street gangs, known as pandillas. The police are considered corrupt; many officers are involved in kidnappings and murders.
A former police officer who worked as a hit man is responsible for the death of newspaper photographer Jorge Aguirre, murdered in early April. Aguirre, who worked for the daily El Mundo, was stuck in a traffic jam on his way to a demonstration against organized crime when a black-clad motorcyclist stopped next to his car. The killer stepped off his motorcycle and fired several lethal shots at the photographer.
As he died, Aguirre managed to take several pictures with the digital camera on his lap. The shaky images are not just a document of the daily violence that plagues Latin America -- they helped identify his killer too.
Hollander - May 25, 2006 06:13 PM (GMT)
Gang leader's lawyer tearfully denies link to Brazilian massacre
May 24, 2006
BY ALAN CLENDENNING
SAO PAULO, Brazil -- A sobbing attorney told lawmakers Tuesday she had not given gang members advance word of a police crackdown that prompted a wave of violence that left 172 people dead in one week.
The attorney Maria Cristina Rachado represents Marcos Willians Herbas Camacho, the leader of Sao Paulo's First Capital Command gang, which launched attacks on May 12 against police in and around the city.
Speaking before a congressional hearing in the capital Brasilia, she denied breaking the law by acquiring a tape of a supposedly secret May 10 congressional meeting in which police detailed plans to isolate jailed gang members.
Rachado told lawmakers she went with a sound technician to copy the tape but never heard its contents and gave it to another lawyer for the gang, Sergio Wesley da Cunha.
Believed it was legal
''I didn't pass on information to anyone,'' said Rachado, who maintained she had not spoken to her client since March. She broke down while contending she has been unjustly accused by politicians and the media. The hearing was carried live on television.
Da Cunha denied wrongdoing, testifying later that he believed he had obtained the tape legally because the sound technician agreed to make the copy. He also said he never revealed its contents to anyone.
Authorities say the unprecedented week of gang-inspired violence in this city of 18 million people erupted after gang members learned of the plans to isolate imprisoned leaders, who control many of Sao Paulo's teeming, notoriously corrupt prisons.
Brazilian media have reported that during the secret part of the May 10 meeting, police told lawmakers that they planned to reduce the power of gangs inside prisons by transferring hundreds of their members to a remote facility where they would not be able to use cell phones. But committee members who were present said the information was not that detailed.
Had second thoughts
The technician who copied the audio tape, Arthur Vinicius Pilastre Silva, said he did not know what was on it and let the lawyers determine the price. But after seeing the violence on television, he said he wondered whether he could have helped start it and called his superiors.
A day after the tape was copied, police began trying to isolate hundreds of gang members. But gang leaders reportedly were able to use cell phones to order their ''soldiers'' to kill police.
Hollander - June 28, 2006 09:39 AM (GMT)
Police on maximum alert after Brazil shootout
Tuesday, June 27, 2006; Posted: 10:58 a.m. EDT (14:58 GMT)
SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) -- Police in South America's largest city were on maximum alert Tuesday following a shootout in which 13 suspected gang members were killed, allegedly while trying to carry out a plan to attack prison guards.
Authorities said all 13 were believed to be members of the First Capital Command gang that in mid-May unleashed an unprecedented weeklong spree of violence that left nearly 200 people dead.
Last month's attacks prompted widespread fear across Sao Paulo, and Brazilians shuttered businesses, stayed indoors and pulled their children from schools at a time when the gang, known by its Portuguese initials PCC, appeared to have the upper hand over police.
But Luiz Fernando Correa, Brazil's top national security official, said, "this latest incident shows that our capacity to be one step ahead is the solution."
Twelve men and one woman were killed Monday in a gunfight with police outside a prison in Sao Bernardo do Campo, an industrial suburb on the outskirts of Sao Paulo.
Acting on orders from imprisoned PCC leaders, they planned to shoot as many as 60 guards from four lockups over a 10-day period as they headed to work or finished their shifts, district police chief Marco Antonio de Paula Santos said.
"We believe they launched these attacks as a way to pressure authorities to relax the more severe prison conditions imposed on gang leaders after the May attacks," Santos said.
There were no signs that Monday's violence was spreading or having any impact on daily life in Sao Paulo, a metropolis of 18 million.
Sao Paulo state Gov. Claudio Lembo said no new waves of violence were expected, and the city's streets were calm Tuesday as Brazilians wearing the nation's bright green and yellow blew horns and cheered ahead of the country's World Cup soccer match in Germany against Ghana.
But Santos said police were taking no chances and had been placed on maximum alert "to make sure they (the PCC) will fail if they decide to launch a new attack."
Officers learned about the plan to attack prison guards by listening in on gang leaders' phone calls and from informants, according to Santos and state police.
Before dawn Monday, undercover officers spotted suspected PCC members allegedly getting ready to attack three guards who were leaving the Sao Bernardo prison, and exchanged gunfire with the suspects.
Some suspects were killed at a gas station about 500 yards (meters) from the prison and the rest were shot dead in gunbattles on the streets as they tried to flee in cars, Santos said. One officer was grazed by a bullet, five suspects were taken into custody uninjured and at least four escaped. Authorities seized eight handguns and a rifle.
Jailed members of the gang allegedly ordered last month's rampage because of outrage over a government plan to transfer gang leaders to more secure prisons. The May 12-19 spree left 41 officers and prison guards dead.
Police struck back, killing 123 people, many described as gang members, though human rights advocates said they suspected innocents were killed. Twenty-three inmates also died in prison rebellions.
Prosecutors said they will investigate Monday's incident to determine if use of force was justified.
Skippy - July 6, 2006 10:25 AM (GMT)
Police hunt drug gang kingpin
From correspondents in Rio de Janeiro
July 06, 2006
BRAZILIAN police occupied two Rio de Janeiro slums overnight in search of a drug kingpin suspected of ordering a massacre of up to 18 people whose bodies had been dumped on Rio streets this week.
A security secretariat spokeswoman said criminals greeted police with fire when officers invaded the hillside slums known as Kerosene and Sao Carlos to arrest Tiago Teixeira, the 21-year-old kingpin known as Coelho, or Rabbit, in Portuguese.
A police investigator who did not want to be named said most of the slain belonged to Rabbit's own gang and had apparently conspired against him in a turf war, while others probably were from a rival gang that supported the mutiny.
Police have so far found 14 bodies dumped in different parts of the crime-ridden city, including 10 corpses found on Tuesday inside three abandoned cars. Two bodies also were found in a car on Monday and two were found in a channel not far from the City Hall on Tuesday.
Most of the corpses had signs of torture and bullet wounds typical of executions. Slum dwellers also reported four other people as abducted and slain by criminals. Police were looking for their bodies.
Execution-type killings are typical not only of gang wars, but also of many death squads active in Rio de Janeiro. In March 2005, a death squad comprising off-duty police officers slaughtered 29 innocent people in Rio's worst massacre.
Skippy - July 13, 2006 07:41 AM (GMT)
Gangsters resume attacks on police
From correspondents in Sao Paulo
July 13, 2006
POLICE stations and bank branches were riddled with bullets and dozens of buses firebombed in Sao Paulo state overnight, leaving five people dead, in what police said was a new round of attacks ordered by a powerful prison gang.
Police said the violence, which started last night and continued until this morning, left one police officer and his sister dead in Sao Paulo city, Brazil's financial capital.
Three security guards were also gunned down in the nearby coastal town of Guaruja.
Police had previously said that the adult son of a prison guard in Sao Paulo had been murdered by the gang, but today said his killing was unrelated.
The bloodshed was the latest chapter in a tense battle between security forces and a notorious criminal gang known as the First Command of the Capital, or PCC, which police said was behind the attacks.
The state government has scrambled to prevent a repeat of the chaos that gripped the city two months ago. In May, almost 200 people were killed in the worst wave of gang violence to date in Sao Paulo, essentially bringing South America's largest city to a halt for two days. Police said the PCC went on the murderous spree to protest the transfer of gang leaders to a maximum-security prison.
The latest attacks may also have been prompted by rumours of the eventual transfer of more gang leaders to a new federal prison in the southern state of Parana, police said.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has offered to send troops to Sao Paulo to help quell the violence, but so far the state's governor, Claudio Lembo, has declined to accept.
The president offered federal help again today, telling reporters in the northeastern city of Salvador that "they (the criminals) are terrorizing Sao Paulo and we have to take a stand".
But Mr Lembo, who hails from a rival political party, turned down the offer once more.
"Police enforcements are not opportune nor necessary because the Sao Paulo police force is the biggest and best-equipped ... in the country," he said in a statement.
The recent violence in Sao Paulo has highlighted the deep social problems afflicting Brazil, a country with one of the widest gaps between rich and poor in the world.
It has also put crime high on the agenda in an election year and, analysts say, could hurt the leading opposition candidate's chances to unseat Mr Lula in the October vote.
Mr Lula's main rival is Geraldo Alckmin, who relinquished his post as Sao Paulo's governor to Mr Lembo in March to focus on his bid for the presidency. Mr Alckmin suffered in the polls immediately after the violence in May, in part because many voters associated the attacks with his administration.
Hollander - August 8, 2006 09:49 AM (GMT)
Brazil gang targets South America's financial capital
City urged to remain calm
Monday, August 7, 2006; Posted: 12:11 p.m. EDT (16:11 GMT)
A bank employee walks by destroyed automated teller machines on July 14 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) -- Gang members torched buses and attacked police posts, banks and other buildings in Sao Paulo, Brazil, before dawn Monday, leaving at least two dead and three hurt in the latest flare-up of a violent crime wave that has plagued Brazil's largest city for months.
Police and city officials said the attacks appeared to be the work of a powerful organized crime group known as the First Command of the Capital, or PCC, which has caused mayhem in and around Sao Paulo in recent months. Sixty people were arrested after a three-day wave of attacks in July.
The state's public security secretariat said police shot and killed two suspects on Monday following the attacks overnight. In all, it said 27 different targets were hit in and around the city, South America's financial capital.
The most high-profile target was the state prosecutor's building, whose entryway was destroyed by a homemade explosive. Criminals also hurled explosives at the state's finance department, shattering windows.
Around the city, gunmen fired shots at three police posts and torched at least 11 buses and two patrol cars. Banks, gas stations and supermarkets were also targeted, leaving three people injured, a fire department spokesman said.
Two bus companies in Sao Paulo and one in the nearby city of Jundiai refused to deploy their fleets on Monday for fear they would be targets of further attacks.
The governor of Sao Paulo state, Claudio Lembo, said police were investigating and urged citizens to remain calm.
"We had some situations that are very symbolic, with an attack on a public institution," he told reporters, referring to the state prosecutor's building.
The unrest marks the third time in four months that the PCC has terrorized Sao Paulo. In May, nearly 200 people were killed in the police clashes with the PCC in the worst wave of violence in the city's history.
The PCC struck again in July, unleashing more than 120 attacks over a three-day span that left seven dead. In response, the federal government pledged $46 million for Sao Paulo to buy intelligence equipment and build more prisons.
The violence has raised doubts about the state government's ability to assert control over its overcrowded prison system, where jailed gang leaders use smuggled cell phones to give orders to subordinates on the outside.
The attacks have also helped make violent crime a top theme in this year's election campaign. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is up for re-election in the October 1 vote, has offered to send troops to Sao Paulo to quell the violence.
But Lembo, who hails from a rival political party, has declined the offer. He was set to meet Justice Minister Marcio Thomaz Bastos later on Monday to discuss the situation.
Hollander - April 7, 2007 09:13 AM (GMT)
Gunmen fail to bust Italian out of prison hospital
7 April 2007
RIO DE JANEIRO - A group of around 20 gunmen tried to bust an Italian held for drug trafficking out of a Brazilian prison hospital on Friday, but police foiled the movies-like escape attempt.
Globo news network quoted Rio state penitentiary department officials as saying the criminals, who were heavily armed and clad in black, exchanged intense fire with police before fleeing in several cars and abandoning Alessandro Castiglioni.
Castiglioni has been trying to climb over the hospital wall with two other inmates, but they were discovered by guards at the hospital in downtown Rio de Janeiro.
Police confirmed a shootout outside the hospital and prison close to the Rio City Hall, but had no other details. Nobody was hurt in the standoff, which occurred on the Good Friday holiday when the center of Rio is empty.
The hospital stands close to one of Rio’s shanty towns, which is dominated by drug traffickers.
Castiglioni was arrested in 2003 and charged with international drug trafficking, which included large shipments of cocaine via Brazil to European countries. Brazilian police suspect his ring of being linked to the Italian Mafia.
Hollander - June 28, 2007 08:29 AM (GMT)
Brazil police kill 13 suspected drug traffickers in worst battle of two-month Rio slum siege
The Associated Press
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil: Police backed by helicopters raided a teeming Rio slum, killing at least 13 suspected drug traffickers in pitched gunbattles that had parents using their bodies to shield children caught in the mayhem.
Wednesday's assault triggered the worst urban combat in a two-month siege of the Alemao shantytown, where fighting has killed at least 40 people and injured more than 80 since May.
Authorities seeking to restoring order to an area long ruled by gangs sent 1,350 officers and elite federal police to the slum, where they were met by grenades and fusillades from automatic weapons.
At least 10 people were wounded in the operation, most of them bystanders caught in the crossfire or hit by stray bullets.
But all those killed were suspected members of gangs that dominate the area's thriving street-corner drug trade, said Rio de Janeiro state security chief Jose Mariano Beltrame.
"No innocent people were killed," Beltrame told reporters, adding that the operation was a "bitter remedy" but would continue indefinitely.
Heavily armed officers battled gang members for hours in the slum's narrow alleys to reach one of the traffickers' main strongholds.
Parents frantically tried to protect their children from the gunfire after classes were suspended. Gang members dumped oil on streets to try to prevent armored cars from entering and police had to use a backhoe to remove a truck blocking the entrance to the adjacent Grota shantytown, where some of the heaviest fighting took place.
The conflict was touched off by the killing of two police officers on May 2, and police and the gangs have been exchanging gunfire ever since with neither side giving much ground.
But early Wednesday, police mounted their biggest show of force yet, taking over low-lying areas of the hilly Alemao area, and started moving up several of the narrow alleys that line the hillside shantytowns.
Photographers captured images of slum dwellers leaning over the body of a man shot dead in the street, and of other men carrying a crying young woman with a gunshot wound to the leg.
Shootouts between drug gangs and police are a daily occurrence in Rio, but the daylong battle left the crime-weary neighborhood stunned, said Luiz Claudio dos Santos, a community leader.
"It's tough," he said. "We have people shot here at the hospital from all over the Alemao complex."
Authorities said Wednesday's death toll could rise because police believe some bodies had not been recovered.
Police said they entered the slum to serve arrest warrants and seize drugs and arms, but did not disclose whether arrests were made. The web site of the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper reported that officers confiscated five rifles, 60 grenades, pistols and small amounts of cocaine and marijuana.
Beltrame denied the operation was related to the upcoming Pan American Games, one of Latin America's most important sporting events. Security is a key concern for the July 13-29 games, when thousands of athletes and hundreds of thousands of spectators are expected in the city.
"The operation could have taken place two months ago, but the consequences would have been much worse," Beltrame said. "We used the time to gather intelligence and achieve our objectives."
Officials said that 2,000 more elite police will be sent to Rio in coming days to boost security for the games and that the number will rise to 6,000. Rio officials on Wednesday said they would lobby for the force to remain in the city after the games end.
Hollander - April 15, 2008 12:00 PM (GMT)
Posted on Mon, Apr. 14, 2008
Armed group attacks Brazil prison
By ALAN CLENDENNING - Associated Press Writer
SAO PAULO, Brazil --Armed men firing from pickup trucks and flying in a helicopter attacked a maximum-security prison holding some of Brazil's highest-profile inmates but were repelled by guards, authorities said Monday. No inmates escaped.
The federal prison attacked late Sunday houses Colombian drug lord Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia and Brazilian gang leader Luiz Fernando da Costa - and authorities were investigating whether the gunmen were trying to free either of the men.
"The prison was attacked by gunmen wielding heavy caliber weapons," Wilson Damasio, the director of Brazil's Federal Penitentiary System, told reporters. "The idea was obviously to free inmates. There is no other reason for attacking a penitentiary."
The helicopter flew over the prison during the attack but never landed, according to justice ministry spokesman who declined to give his name in keeping with department policy.
Shots were fired at the control towers of the prison, and guards counterattacked with their own gunfire and by lobbing grenades, Brazil's Globo TV reported.
All of the attackers got away and no one was injured at the prison, located in the Mato Grosso do Sul state capital of Campo Grande in southwestern Brazil.
Ramirez Abadia - nicknamed "Chupeta," or "Lollipop" - is accused of leading the powerful Norte del Valle cartel, which emerged as Colombia's most powerful drug gang in the mid-1990s. A Brazilian judge found him guilty of money laundering, corruption, conspiracy and use of false documents.
Brazil's Supreme Court ruled last month that Ramirez Abadia could also be extradited to the United States to face racketeering charges - a decision that is up to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Silva has not indicated whether he will approve the extradition.
Da Costa is Brazil's most notorious drug trafficker. Better known as "Fernandinho Beira-Mar" - Portuguese for "Seaside Freddy" - da Costa was captured in 2001 in the Colombian jungle.
Hollander - April 28, 2008 02:09 PM (GMT)
Report: Brazil police kill 11 in raid
By Alan Clendenning
Associated Press Writer / April 27, 2008
SAO PAULO, Brazil—Police swarmed a Rio de Janeiro slum in search of a drug lord on Friday, touching off a shootout that killed 11 people including a 70-year-old woman, Brazil's government news agency said. Two bystanders were wounded.
more stories like thisPolice said 10 of those killed were suspected criminals, the official Agencia Brasil news agency reported.
The raid was carried out by Rio's controversial Special Operations Police Battalion, heavily armed police with military-like training who are often accused by slum dwellers of shooting first and asking questions later.
Rio police didn't answer telephone calls Friday night seeking comment.
Brazilian media reported that bystander Jocelia Afonso, 70, died after being shot in the throat.
Another victim was identified by police as Jorge Ferreira, an alleged drug ring leader.
The Web site of O Globo newspaper reported that two bystanders were hit in the crossfire. There were no reports of injuries to the 150 officers who carried out the raid.
The police battalion involved was the subject of last year's award-winning movie "Elite Squad," directed by Jose Padilha, which claims to tell the true stories of 12 former officers from the black-uniformed paramilitary unit.
The squad's members claim to be the world's most effective urban warriors. Engaging in almost nightly gunbattles with heavily armed drug gangs, they have more house-to-house warfare experience than many soldiers. Their insignia -- a dagger-impaled skull -- strikes fear into residents of Rio's nearly 700 shantytowns.
Rio de Janeiro is one of the world's most violent cities, with frequent shootouts between police and gangs and an annual murder rate of about 50 per 100,000.
A record 1,260 civilians died in clashes with police in Rio de Janeiro state last year, according to a report by the state's Institute of Public Safety.
Friday's raid was carried out in the City of God slum, featured in a 2002 movie of the same name that was nominated for four Academy Awards.
Junior - June 23, 2011 10:24 PM (GMT)
Brazil: Eight 'drug dealers' die in Rio raid
BBC News, June 23, 2011
Police in Rio de Janeiro say eight suspected drug traffickers have been killed during a raid in a slum area.
The group died in two separate exchanges of gunfire - lasting several hours - in the Engenho da Rainha neighbourhood, military police said.
Police said they later discovered rifles, pistols and grenades.
The police have targeted a number of slums recently as they attempt to clear high-crime areas ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.
'Gunfire until dawn'
The operation started on Wednesday night, when Rio's Special Operations Battalion (the Bope) entered the Engenho da Rainha favela looking for suspected drug traffickers.
An intense firefight ensued between police and alleged gang members, and gunfire shook the neighbourhood until dawn on Thursday.
Police say the first confrontation started on the Guarabu Road just before midnight, when three suspected drug traffickers were killed.
According to Rio's military police, a short time later officers were fired on from another part of the favela. Five suspected traffickers were killed in the second exchange.
A local resident was also injured when he was caught in the crossfire.
Police said they confiscated two rifles, ammunition, three pistols, two grenades, and a quantity of drugs during the operation.
Rio de Janeiro has long been considered one of the most violent cities in Brazil, but analysts say that among the country's urban areas it has seen the biggest fall in criminal activity in recent months.
Junior - August 12, 2011 10:10 PM (GMT)
Brazil judge Patricia Acioli shot dead in Niteroi
BBC News, August 12, 2011
A Brazilian judge renowned for her work against organised crime has been shot dead in Rio de Janeiro State.
Patricia Acioli was gunned down outside her home in the city of Niteroi late on Thursday by masked men travelling on two motorbikes, officials said.
She was best known for convicting members of vigilante gangs and corrupt police officers.
The judge's family said she had received several death threats, but had not had a police escort.
Witnesses told AFP the gunmen intercepted the mother-of-three's car as she was arriving at home in Niteroi, just across Guanabara Bay from Rio de Janeiro.
They had fired at least 16 shots, killing the 47-year-old instantly, reports said.
Brazil's Supreme Court condemned the killing as an attack on democracy and the rule of law.
"Cowardly crimes against magistrates are an attack on the independence of the judiciary, the state and Brazilian democracy," Supreme Court President Cezar Peluso said in a statement.
"The preservation of the rule of law in our country demands a rapid investigation of the facts and a rigorous punishment of those responsible for this barbarous act."
Rio has stepped up its campaign against violent crime ahead of hosting football's World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016, correspondents say.
Junior - September 7, 2011 11:25 AM (GMT)
Extra troops sent to Rio slum after gunfight erupts
BBC News, September 7, 2011
Extra police and troops have been sent to a Rio slum after soldiers patrolling as part of a security operation came under fire, Brazilian officials say.
A 15-year-old girl was reported to have been killed during the shooting, which erupted on Tuesday evening.
The Alemao slum, a stronghold for drug traffickers, was retaken by security forces in November as part of what is known as a pacification programme.
This aims to make Rio safer ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.
Some 50 heavily armed men from a nearby slum open fired at security forces in the Complexo do Alemao shantytown, Brazilian media reported.
A local woman told reporters her niece had been killed by a stray bullet.
"I'm very angry because I was born and raised here and no one in my family has ever been killed in shootings. Now that (the slum) has been pacified, I'm seeing one of them killed. Where's the state? Where are the authorities?" she said.
Other residents said people had been injured in the shooting.
"I'm in favour of having soldiers in Alemao, but I'm afraid. I still don't feel safe here," resident Natanael Duarte told the G1 website.
In recent days, tension had been growing in Alemao, with some residents complaining of overly aggressive policing.
Last November's security operation to take control of Alemao, which is a complex of a dozen or so neighbourhoods, was hailed as a big blow against Rio's drug gangs.
Soldiers have since continued to patrol the streets to try to stop traffickers from returning.
Junior - October 10, 2011 04:36 PM (GMT)
Brazil police seize half tonne of cocaine in north-east
BBC News, October 10, 2011
Brazilian police have made a major cocaine seizure in the port of Suape in the north-eastern state of Pernambuco.
The haul of more than half a tonne was found in bags hidden in containers at the port, officials said.
Police believe the drug came from either Colombia or Bolivia and was destined for Europe via Africa.
Brazil is a major transit point for smugglers moving South American cocaine into Europe's lucrative drugs market.
The illegal shipment was discovered at the weekend when a sniffer dog detected the drug.
Officers found some 30 bags of cocaine hidden among some 3,500 sacks of plaster in containers.
So far, the authorities estimate the illegal shipment to be some 530kg, which would make it the largest seizure to date in the north-east of the country.
Junior - October 21, 2011 04:32 PM (GMT)
Law Catches Up with Rio Drug Lord in Paraguay Hideout
By Elyssa Pachico, InSight, Thursday, October 20, 2011
Authorities in a Paraguayan border town arrested a man identified as one of Brazil's most wanted drug traffickers, in a warning that the Rio de Janeiro's crime bosses have found new refuges as the city takes control of its favelas.
On October 19, police announced the capture of Alexander Mendes da Silva, alias "Polegar," once a key member of feared Brazilian prison gang the Red Command (Comando Vermelho). Mendes was arrested in Pedro Juan Caballero, a Paraguayan town which police have described as the most important smugglers' point for weapons and drugs destined for Brazil, according to the Guardian.
Mendes, who arrested on charges of carrying false identification papers, should be extradited to Brazil by next week, authorities said.
His arrest could mark the end of a long criminal career. Mendes first catapulted to national attention in Brazil when he masterminded a break-out from Rio de Janeiro's Polinter prison. In an operation carefully planned to free several top Red Command operatives from captivity, Mendes and 40 others used a truck to block the highway leading to the prison, then drove a car through the penitentiary walls. Fourteen alleged leaders of the Red Command escaped.
Mendes was arrested a year later in 2002 and sentenced to 16 years imprisonment on drug trafficking charges. After seven years in jail, he escaped when authorities granted him house arrest. According to some accounts, he drove out of the neighborhood, accompanied by his partner, in a police car.
Afterwards, he reportedly moved into one of Rio de Janeiro's most crime-ridden shantytowns, Mangueira, which has a population of 3,500. He allegedly became deeply involved in Mangueira's drug trade, and police soon began identifying him as one of Rio's most wanted criminals, offering a reward of around $1 million for information on his whereabouts. In a neighboring favela, the Complexo de Alemao, he maintained a luxury mansion with a rooftop swimming pool, a jacuzzi, and a mural of U.S. pop star Justin Bieber on the wall (see photo, above).
In November 2010, after Brazilian forces launched an operation to wrest control of Complexo de Alemao from local gangs, Mendes managed to escape yet again. Some rumors say he fled his luxury mansion by sliding down an escape pipe into a nearby river. Police then intensified their attempts to track Mendes down, arresting his romantic partner in November 2010 and launching search operations in Mangueira shortly afterwards.
That Paraguayan authorities managed to capture Mendes in a crime-ridden border town is one sign that the increased cooperation between Brazilian and Paraguayan law enforcement may yet bring significant results. This push towards greater intelligence sharing between the two countries comes amid new concerns that Brazilian gangs are increasingly basing their operations in Paraguay. That Mendes chose to make his new home in Pedro Juan Caballero, reportedly working in the used car trade (an industry associated with money laundering in the region), suggests that he found the pressure from the security forces in Brazil too much. This is one encouraging sign that Brazil is managing to create an inhospitable environment for key leaders in the drug trade.
But Mendes' choice to relocate from Rio to Paraguay illustrates another fundamental problem with the government's "pacification" strategy, in which police are working to re-take control of Rio de Janeiro's favelas one by one. Complexo de Alemao is the favela where many drug traffickers took refuge, as police set up permanent occupation posts in other neighborhoods. After the security offensive in November 2010, many gangs are now believed to have shifted into other shantytowns not yet occupied by the police.
In some ways, Mendes' criminal career was partly indicative of this same "domino effect" in crime fighting: efforts to chase gangs out of one neighborhood causes them to regroup and consolidate in another region -- be it a neighboring favela or be it southern Paraguay. And aside from continuing to increase cooperation with other countries in the region, there is probably little Brazil can do to address this phenomenon, aside from celebrate the capture of the occasional "big fish" like Mendes.
Junior - October 25, 2011 12:02 AM (GMT)
Brazil Dismantles Military Police-led Contraband Ring
Written by Jeanna Cullinan, InSight.com
Monday, October 24, 2011
A special task force on public corruption has arrested eight military police accused of participation in a smuggling ring in Matto Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, two states on Brazil's western border with Paraguay and Bolivia.
The task force detained three suspects in the state's capital, Campo Grande, and five more in Sidrolandia, southwest of the capital. The suspects are accused of accepting bribes in exchange for allowing contraband to be smuggled across the border from Paraguay. The task force's investigation continues, with warrants issued to conduct searches of the suspects' personal property and to detain other individuals that are still at large involved in the smuggling ring.
In a separate operation, Brazil's federal police seized 370 boxes of illegal cigarettes (see photo above) worth approximately $400,000 dollars after the boat filled with contraband landed on the shore of Itaipu Lake in neighboring Parana state, which also shares a border with Paraguay. Police arrested the 26-year old Paraguayan pilot of the boat. Parana's governor revealed a border security strategy to crack down on smuggling networks operating in the state in September, part of a larger national strategy to fight drug and contraband trafficking across Brazil's borders.
Junior - November 8, 2011 07:54 PM (GMT)
Brazil Authorities Bust Prison Officials Suspected of Extortion Ring
Written by Jeanna Cullinan,InSight, Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Authorities in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro state have issued arrest warrants for nine people in connection with an extortion ring that demanded bribes from those visiting inmates.
The extortion ring operated at Polinter prison in Nova Friburgo, northeast of Rio’s state capital, and involved prison officers and inmates. Four have been arrested in "Operation Pharaoh," including a prison administrator, and arrest warrants have been issued for 12 others.
While carrying out a property search at the home of one of the suspects, police discovered a large supply of suspected contraband. All suspects will be charged with criminal conspiracy to commit bribery. The prison administrator and police guards will also be charged with extortion by a public official.
Brazil's prisons are notoriously overcrowded and difficult to manage, and extortion rings operated by prisoners have been identified in the past.
Junior - November 10, 2011 04:28 PM (GMT)
Brazil police arrest alleged drug chief of Rocinha slum
BBC News, November 10, 2011
Brazilian police have arrested the alleged head of drug-trafficking in Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro's biggest slum, as he was apparently trying to flee.
Antonio Francisco Bonfim Lopes was found in the boot of a car that had left Rocinha, Brazilian media reported.
His arrest comes amid reports that police are set to move in to Rocinha.
Since 2008, police have been occupying shantytowns to oust drug gangs in a bid to make Rio safer ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.
The suspected drug chief, widely known as Nem, was detained when police stopped a car close to Rocinha, reports said.
Hours earlier, five other suspected traffickers had been arrested, together with three police officers and two ex-policemen who were acting as their bodyguards, Brazilian newspaper Folha reported on its website.
During Wednesday, some residents of Rocinha left the area, ahead of an expected security operation to crack down on the traffickers.
Police have been setting up checkpoints at entrances to Rocinha, located in the city's south zone and close to tourist areas.
The shantytown is home to some 70,000 people, according to the last census figures, but is widely thought to have considerably more residents.
To date, police have occupied some 20 favelas to drive out the dealers who controlled the areas.
Special forces, known as BOPE, move in to take on the traffickers. Police then establish a permanent base in the favela with officers geared towards community policing.
Pacification has been generally welcomed in favelas, where residents have seen a drop in crime.
But there have been complaints about the behaviour of some of the troops and police involved, with local people reporting excessive violence or abuse of authority.
Junior - November 13, 2011 04:28 PM (GMT)
Brazil police target drug gangs in Rio's biggest slum
BBC News, November 13, 2011
Brazil's police say they have completed an operation to clear Rio de Janeiro's biggest slum, Rocinha, of drug gangs.
Hundreds of special forces police and navy commandoes backed by armoured military vehicles and helicopters moved into the slum before dawn.
The chief of military police said "there were no incidents and no shots were fired" during the operation.
Police are trying to clear Rio's shantytowns of drug gangs ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.
Since 2008, they have occupied some 20 slums, or favelas, to drive out the dealers who controlled the areas.
"I have the pleasure to inform you that Rocinha and Vidigal [a neighbouring favela] are under our control," chief of military police Alberto Pinheiro Neto told a news conference.
"There were no incidents and no shots were fired. We don't have any information on arrests or weapons seized."
He said the two favelas had been under their control since 06:00 local time (08:00 GMT) and the streets - which had been shut a few hours before the operation began - would soon reopen.
The AFP news agency reported that a few residents watched from their windows as the troops advanced through the deserted streets of Rocinha.
Residents spoken to by the AFP said they supported the move, hoping it would bring better conditions and prospects as well as ridding the favela of criminals.
However, some women were seen crying as the troops moved in, suggesting not everyone supported the operation.
Police had openly announced their plan to move into Rocinha - which is officially home to some 70,000 people, although is widely thought to have considerably more residents.
Some of the favela's residents left the area on Wednesday, as police began setting up checkpoints at entrances to the slum district, which is located close to tourist areas in Rio's south zone.
They scored an early success on Thursday when they arrested alleged drugs kingpin Antonio Francisco Bonfim Lopes - widely known as "Nem" - as he tried to escape Rocinha in the boot of a car.
The driver of the vehicle tried to claim diplomatic immunity, saying he was the honorary consul of the Democratic Republic of Congo, police said.
He then offered a bribe worth $570,000 (£358,000), they added, but officers refused and opened the boot to discover the hidden suspect.
Nem was one of Rio's most wanted suspects and his arrest was described as a "historic moment" by the city's state security secretary Jose Mariano Beltrame.
The police operation to clear the favelas involves special forces, known as BOPE, moving in to take on the traffickers. Police then establish a permanent base in the favela with officers trained in community policing.
City officials also move in to provide services such as health care and electricity.
Pacification has been generally welcomed in favelas, where residents have seen a drop in crime.
But there have been complaints about the behaviour of some of the troops and police involved, with local people reporting excessive violence or abuse of authority.
Junior - November 28, 2011 06:26 PM (GMT)
Crime in Police-Occupied Rio Favelas Cut in Half
Written by Geoffrey Ramsey, InSight
Monday, November 28, 2011
A new study indicates that the number of homicides in Rio de Janeiro favelas that have been "pacified" by elite police units has fallen by 50 percent in less than three years.
According to an investigation of police records by Brazil’s O Globo newspaper, 17 pacified favelas around the city saw the number of homicides decrease by half after Pacifying Police Units (UPPs) arrived.
The study also found that these communities saw an average reduction of 11,000 reported assaults in the same period.
The investigators saw significant drops in other crime rates as well, although they varied by favela and the length of time that UPPs have been present. Over the period studied, fatal robberies fell by 40 to 56 percent, household burglaries fell by 38 to 74 percent, and robberies of businesses fell by between 21 and 39 percent.
As InSight Crime has reported, the security strategy in Rio has been criticized by some who claim that increased numbers of police units has not been accompanied by other forms of state presence. While the pacification process is supposed to involve both the deployment of specially-trained community police and increased access to public services, the latter has been neglected in many favelas.
Junior - November 28, 2011 06:27 PM (GMT)
134 Inmates Escape From Prisons in Bahia, Brazil
Written by Jeanna Cullinan, InSight
Monday, November 28, 2011
More than 130 inmates escaped in two mass prison breaks from separate facilities in Brazil over the last three days.
On Friday, 82 prisoners escaped through a hole in the roof of a prison complex in Barreiras, in Brazil’s northeastern Bahia state. According to reports, 12 inmates have been recaptured, but 70 remain at large. Among the fugitives are men convicted of violent crimes like armed robbery and murder.
A second breakout occurred on Sunday in the capital of the same state, Salvador de Bahia. After overpowering uniformed guards and another employee, a group of 52 inmates escaped. They were reportedly led by Ronei Batista da Silva, considered by prison authorities to be amongst the most dangerous detainees.
Overcrowding is a serious problem for Brazil’s prison system. The facility in Barreiras, for example, was designed to hold 28, but houses approximately 172 prisoners. The complex in Salvador de Bahia has double the inmate population it was intended to hold.
Junior - December 14, 2011 06:32 PM (GMT)
Rio de Janeiro Police Caught Selling Seized Weapons
Written by Elyssa Pachico, InSight
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Police in Rio de Janeiro arrested 16 people, including 11 military police, accused of selling confiscated firearms to criminal groups.
According to news site R7, the group operated a gun trafficking ring that sold weapons to gangs based in Rio's third-largest favela, Jacarezinho.
This is one of Rio's poorer areas, where crack cocaine use is widespread, and prison gang the Red Command (Comando Vermelho) is active.
Jacarezinho does not yet have a police pacification unit, known as UPPs. The UPPs have been presented as highly-trained community police forces, whose employees are well paid and unlikely to take bribes or collaborate with criminals. In September, however, one UPP commander was fired for accepting bribes in exchange for allowing drug and weapons to be sold in certain areas.
As Jacarezinho remains one of Rio's most crime-ridden favelas, it would make sense that demand for weapons remains particularly high here. There are some concerns that Rio's more powerful gangs may have found refuge in Jazarezinho after being driven from other larger favelas, including Rochinha and Complexo de Alemao.
Since initiating the UPP program in 2008, the government has led highly publicized security raids in these areas, aiming to clear the favelas of gangs then re-establish social control.
Junior - February 5, 2012 09:24 PM (GMT)
Crime soars in Brazil's Bahia state as police strike
BBC News, February 5, 2012
The Brazilian government has deployed the army in the northeastern state of Bahia where a police strike has sparked a wave of violence.
Official figures suggest the murder rate has more than doubled in the state capital, Salvador, since police stopped work there on Tuesday.
The number of assaults and thefts has also risen compared to previous weeks.
Salvador, Brazil's third largest city, is one of the venues for the football World Cup in 2014.
Bahia Governor Jaques Wagner said the strike was illegal and accused some of the officers of violent tactics.
"A group of police using reprehensible methods, spreading fear among the population, caused disturbances in some parts of the state," Mr Wagner said.
The officers are demanding a 50% wage increase and better working conditions.
According to the Bahia public security ministry, the murder rate in the state capital Salvador rose by 129%.
The ministry said 78 people were killed since the start of the strike on 31 of January, compared to 34 in the same time period the previous week.
Bahia state officials said one of the strike leaders was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of stealing public funds.
The officials said the arrest was related to the seizure by striking officers of more than a dozen police vehicles.
Arrest warrants have been issued for another 11 strike leaders.
Sixteen of the seized vehicles have now been recovered by the army.
The spike in violence comes as Salvador prepares for Carnival celebrations which are attended by tens of thousands of tourists every year.
Junior - February 19, 2012 12:36 AM (GMT)
'Ex-Police Commander in Rio Took $8,600 a Week in Bribes'
Written by Elyssa Pachico, InSight.com
Thursday, February 16, 2012
A former commander in Brazil's UPP police unit was arrested on drug trafficking charges in Rio de Janeiro, the latest allegation of corruption to dog the highly praised force.
According to O Globo, the former head of Rio's Pacifying Police Unit (Unidade de Policia Pacificadora - UPP), based in the San Carlos favela, was among the 11 people arrested by anti-narcotics police on Thursday. A member of the military police was also among those arrested.
Authorities told O Globo that as of November 2011, the UPP captain was no longer part of the force. He is charged with accepting about 15,000 Brazilian reais (about $8,675) each week in bribes from a local drug trafficker.
InSight Crime Analysis
On one hand, the arrest is a sign that authorities are continuing to root out corrupt elements in the UPP. The elite police force has been presented as a successful community policing model deployed across Rio de Janeiro's favelas.
But the program has shown cracks. The city's police force, including many UPP officers, temporarily threatened to strike just before Carnaval celebrations, complaining they were forced to work up to 70 hours a week for low salaries. The strike was called off after Rio's state assembly approved a 13 percent salary raise, which was only about half what the police officers demanded. The low salaries help explain why some corrupt officers may opt to accept bribes from criminals.
Rio de Janeiro currently has 19 UPP units deployed across the city.
Junior - March 23, 2012 07:55 PM (GMT)
Tracking the Spread of Crack Cocaine in Sao Paulo and Rio
Written by Christopher Looft and Elyssa Pachico
InSight, Thursday, March 22, 2012
The market for crack cocaine is booming in Brazil, and may already be bringing in major profits for organized crime in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
The extent of Brazil’s crack cocaine problem became clear in January 2012, when Sao Paulo police raided a central neighborhood known colloquially as a “cracolandia,” or crack land. Over 100 people were arrested and around 350 addicts were placed in the care of social services.
Brazil’s next largest city, Rio de Janerio, has also deployed police this year to sweep through “cracolandias,” bringing hundreds into government recovery programs.
Such operations are part of a widening effort to hamper crack distribution and consumption in Brazil, the world’s biggest consumer of cocaine after the United States. And cocaine’s cheaper, more addictive by-product is attracting both the wealthy and the desperately poor in Brazil. According to news website UOL, an estimated 40 percent of crack users in·Rio de Janeiro are believed to belong to the middle class. Police have said that the country now consumes around one ton of crack a day, amounting to some $11 million in profits a day. In the city of Rio de Janeiro alone, the crack trade brings in over $800,000 per month, according to police estimates.
There are some indications that the criminal group most deeply involved in the crack trade is prison gang the First Capital Command (PCC). One top anti-narcotics official has said that the PCC supplies much of the crack cocaine distributed in northeast Brazil, from the group’s homebase in Sao Paulo. Coca base is reportedly processed in Bolivia and shipped to Paraguay, where it is purchased by the PCC and moved to Sao Paulo. The PCC processes the base into cocaine, and sells the by-product as crack. Frequently, anyone who buys a cocaine shipment for distribution must also buy a percentage of crack, according to the UOL report. Drug dealers inside Brazil's prison system will then place orders to PCC distributors via cell phones. After the deals are made, the crack is moved by trucks and buses all over the northeast.
Police have also voiced the theory that the PCC is responsible for flooding the Rio de Janeiro city market with crack, supplying it to the region's most powerful criminal group, the Red Command (Comando Vermelho). About 90 percent of Rio's crack is reportedly shipped from Sao Paulo to the southeastern city of Taubate, then onto Rio via the Dutra highway, the primary road connecting Brazil's largest two cities.
Rio de Janeiro police told news website UOL that they first began seizing significant quantities of crack in 2003. By 2008, as many as ten favelas were suffering from a booming crack trade, all of them controlled by the Red Command. Police seizures increased dramatically, from just 14 pounds seized in 2008 to nearly 200 pounds seized in 2010. According to anti-narcotics agency the DCOD, the number of crack addicts in the city doubled during a 16-month period between 2009 and 2010.
The Red Command is so strongly associated with Rio's crack trade that rival gangs in the city's favelas, including the Friends of Friends (Amigos dos Amigos - ADA) and the Pure Third Command (Terceiro Comando Puro), have tried to disassociate themselves from the business. In one Rio de Janeiro neighborhood, UOL notes, the Pure Third Command hung a banner at the entrance to a favela they controlled, reading "Here we do not sell crack." On one hand, this may be a ploy to shore up support from local communities hit hard by the crack epidemic. But it is more likely that these groups refused to begin peddling crack out of concern that the cheaper drug could drain profits from their cocaine sales.
The militia-controlled favelas in Rio have also reportedly banned the sale of crack. Nor is the drug sold in the favelas which house the community police force units known as the UPP, according to UOL.
The federal government has already promised $2 billion in aid to fight the spread of crack cocaine across Brazil. A successful strategy would likely have to involve breaking up the PCC's control of the business in Sao Paulo and the northeast, as well as the Red Command's monopoly in Rio de Janeiro. For now, there are plenty of alarm bells indicating that the crack market can only grow larger.
Junior - April 4, 2012 03:19 PM (GMT)
Piracy, Smuggling on the Rise in Booming Brazil
Written by Christopher Looft, InSight
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
The explosive growth in Brazil's economy over the last decade has produced an insatiable demand for pirated and smuggled goods, and organized crime is reaping the benefit.
Brazil's federal revenue service reports seizing $812 million worth of illegal consumer goods at airports, seaports, and border crossings in 2011, up 16 percent from 2010. The trend has been rising for several years; a February 2011 report by the National Council to Combat Piracy and Crimes against Intellectual Property (CNCP) showed a three-fold increase in seizures of false, smuggled, and pirated products from 2004 to 2010.
In many cases, counterfeit goods enter Brazil via Paraguay's Tri-Border Area, a hub of illicit activity, including drugs and weapons trafficking. Smugglers source from a large variety of locations, as far away as China. Once goods are inside Brazil, they are distributed by criminal networks that sometimes span the country.
The smugglers and counterfeiters are driven by Brazil’s booming domestic market, which is hungry for cheaper goods than Brazil's stiff tariffs and high taxes allow. The Doing Business Project, a subsidiary of the World Bank Group, estimated Brazil's tax rate to be 67.1 percent of profit, compared to 46.7 percent for the United States. The high tax burden on Brazilian businesses is passed on to consumers, who must also contend with the high tariffs on imported products like electronics and automobiles. This encourages consumers to buy in the informal sector, where goods are cheaper.
In a 2010 survey of Brazilian consumers, conducted by the Rio de Janeiro State Commerce Federation, of the 52 percent of consumers who had not purchased a pirated good that year, only four percent cited fear of prosecution. Of those 48 percent who had, the overwhelming majority (94 percent) said lower prices drove them to buy counterfeits.
The trade in pirated and smuggled goods feeds other types of organized crime in Brazil. According to the CNCP's 2011 report "the route used by smugglers who traffic pirated products in Brazilian territory is the same used by other criminals to move their products." The report also notes that up to 20 percent of seizures of pirated or smuggled goods also brought in drugs, guns, or ammunition. This points to links between organized crime and piracy in Brazil, suggesting that the same groups who traffic drugs and arms may also be involved in trafficking contraband goods.
Roberval Ferreira França, a military police colonel, has said that counterfeiting networks in São Paulo state are directly linked with smuggling and drug trafficking, as the Bom Dia Network reports. Rafael Thomaz Favetti, then-president of the CNCP, said in August 2010 that piracy was controlled by organized crime, according to a report by Agencia Brasil.
There is evidence that many smugglers have penetrated the very authorities hunting them. Weeks ago, federal police, arrested five employees of the Revenue Service, along with 15 others, who, together, had been running an international illegal import ring with hubs in at least three different states. The Revenue Service estimated the smuggling ring was responsible for more than $50 million in illegal imports.
In another example of corruption aiding smuggling, authorities in Pernambuco arrested a councilman and four police officers for accepting bribes to allow the safe passage of pirated goods. The five were on an anti-piracy squad. The year-long investigation, in which police also found drugs, weapons, and US and European currency, involved 125 law enforcement agents. The manpower necessary to dismantle a smuggling ring of no more than five people illustrates the difficulty in tackling piracy in Brazil. A study by the Brazil-US Business Council·estimated the value of Brazil's black market of consumer goods at more than $20 billon. This means the port, airport, and border operations of the Federal Revenue Service, the largest source of apprehensions, disrupted less than 5 percent of pirated goods last year.
Junior - April 9, 2012 10:24 PM (GMT)
Crack Cocaine Driving Violence in Brazil Murder Capital
By Elyssa Pachico, InSight, Monday, April 9, 2012
Authorities say that homicides are rising in Maceio, the world's third most violent city, thanks to the spread of crack cocaine across Brazil.
According to an AFP report, murder rates in the coastal city are up 180 percent from 10 years ago, making it Brazil's most violent city. With a population of 1.1 million, the city's murder rate is 109 per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to the national rate of 26 per 100,000.
Police say much of the violence is linked to the city's booming trade for crack cocaine.
"Most addicts are killed because they can't pay back the debt they own their dealer," one military police officer tells the AFP in a video (see below). "The traffickers like to show who's boss to ensure they get their money, so they make an example of the user by murdering him."
InSight Crime Analysis
Thanks to the security surges in larger cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, drug traffickers have been pushed into new markets. This includes poorer cities like Maceio, where the state government is ridden with debt and lacks the budget for community policing and social projects.
But the city is not alone in its struggle against crack addiction. Brazil's health minister has said that the country is facing "an epidemic" of cocaine and crack use, and the national government has budgeted $2 billion to curb the spread of the drug.
Crack is basically the leftovers from the cocaine production process. Maceio may have built up a large crack market thanks to the dynamics of the Brazilian drug trade, in which dealers who purchase a cocaine shipment for distribution frequently must also buy a percentage of by-product. Prison gang the First Capital Command (PCC) was reportedly able to build up a sizeable crack cocaine market in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo using this strategy.
Junior - April 11, 2012 08:23 PM (GMT)
Drug Trafficking Reports on the Rise in 'Pacified' Rio Favela
By Christopher Looft, InSight, Wednesday, April 11, 2012
The Rocinha favela complex in Rio de Janeiro has seen 75 percent more reports of drug trafficking so far this year than in the same period in 2011, which could suggest greater cooperation between the community and police units who are occupying the neighborhood.
In the first three months of 2012, Rocinha residents made 312 reports of drug trafficking, compared to 178 for the same period in 2011, according to O Globo. Residents have also reported that there are illicit groups of armed men patrolling the streets.
The neighborhood was invaded by military police in November 2011 to clear the way for a pacifying police unit, (UPP). Days before the operation, police arrested Amigos dos Amigos gang leader Antonio Francisco Bonfim Lopes, alias "Nem," as he attempted to flee the favela in the trunk of a car.
O Globo reports that 10 people have been killed in Rochinha so far this year, while police engaged in at least three shoot-outs with suspects in the last week.
InSight Crime Analysis
An increase in reports of drug trafficking could point to a higher level of cooperation between the community and the authorities, with the public trusting the police and feeling confident enough to report crime.
However, given the high levels of violence that have been seen in Rocinha this year, these reports could also be a sign of the continued presence of organized crime in the neighborhood despite the military police occupation.
In recent weeks, a community leader set to testify about Nem's activities was shot to death in the street and a military police corporal from the elite BOPE unit was murdered, the first time a police officer has been killed in a pacified Rio favela. The police invasion of Rocinha and capture of Nem is thought to have upset the balance of power and prompted an outbreak of violence between rival groups, namely the Amigos dos Amigos and Comando Vermelho.
Police are set to double their presence in Rochina with an additional 350 officers.