Paraguay admits Brazil organized crime has taken root

March 3, 2014

Marguerite Cawley – In Sight Crime, 3/3/2014

Paraguay’s top anti-drugs official has admitted that Brazilian organized crime groups have permanent presence in some strategic drug trafficking and production areas of the country, confirming the extent of the Brazilian criminal migration to its ill-prepared neighbor.

Luis Rojas, head of Paraguay’s anti-drug agency SENAD, told EFE that the border towns of Ciudad del Este and Pedro Juan Caballero have become operational centers for Brazilian gangs including the Red Command (CV), the First Capital Command (PCC) and Amigos dos Amigos, which control drug trafficking in these regions.

According to another SENAD official, these criminal organizations take advantage of areas with little state presence, especially in border regions, where much of the country’s marijuana is cultivated. They have also begun financing cocaine production laboratories inside Paraguayan borders, near the border with Bolivia, and advancing money to local farmers to grow marijuana.

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Reform Brazil’s military police

February 19, 2014

Vanessa Barbara – The New York Times, 2/19/2014

 In Brazil, police officers kill an average of five people every day. In 2012, according to a security report from the Brazilian Forum on Public Security, 1,890 Brazilians were killed by the police, 351 here in São Paulo. That was around 20 percent of all homicides in the city. At the same time, 11 police officers were killed on duty here and around 100 were executed off-duty, allegedly by organized crime. Police officers are three times more likely to be murdered than the average Brazilian.

I once complained about being a writer in Brazil, but it seems our police officers are in considerably worse shape. In São Paulo, lower ranked military police officers earn an annual salary of $15,248, including benefits and danger pay allowances. They work in 12-hour shifts, night and day, for an average of 42 hours a week. But only in theory. Officers claim the rules are often ignored, with extended overtime, short notice of scheduling changes and irregular or no lunch breaks. Some take on additional jobs to supplement their wages, not only as private security guards (which is illegal), but also in a program called “Atividade Delegada,” through which the city hires policemen in their spare time, offering the equivalent of $64 for eight extra hours patrolling the streets.

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Brazil border patrols not enough to control crime, drugs: police

January 28, 2014

Marguerite Cawley – InSight Crime, 1/28/2014

Brazil‘s efforts to combat drug trafficking and organized crime by reinforcing border security have not been effective enough, say police, highlighting the difficulty of securing a massive border that touches all of the continent’s major drug producers.

Oslain Santana, head of the Brazilian police’s organized crime unit, said Brazil’s “Strategic Border Plan” had seen results, but more needed to be done, reported O Globo.

Santana highlighted the need for more intelligence work to determine who was trafficking and buying drugs in the major consumer markets of the southeast, south and northeast of the country. “The flow of drugs passes through the border… but it’s destined for the [internal] consumer market,” he said.

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How Brazil World Cup may boost smaller criminal groups

October 21, 2013

Charles Parkinson – In Sight Crime, 10/16/2013

Authorities in Brazil are concentrating public security on high-profile organized crime groups and in World Cup 2014 host states, providing an opportunity for lesser known criminal groups to expand in peripheral regions, according to a new report from Southern Pulse.

Southern Pulse, a boutique risk analysis firm based in the Washington DC area, says limited federal security resources are concentrated on two criminal organizations — Sao Paulo’s First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC) and Rio de Janeiro’s Red Command (Comando Vermelho – CV). The Special Secretariat for Security of Large Events (SESGE), meanwhile, is focusing its $700 million World Cup budget on Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and dividing the rest among the other ten World Cup host cities, which the report says “ignores problems in the other 16 Brazilian states.”

The report emphasizes the danger of this policy.

“Ahead of the 2014 World Cup, states across Brazil have been left outside the international spotlight attracted by international sporting events,” Southern Pulse says. “They represent disparate pockets where local and state governments face an uphill battle against criminal systems as complex as those presented by the PCC and CV.”

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Brazil seeks answers in “Amityville” copycat murders

August 9, 2013

Noah Rayman – Time Magazine, 08/08/2013

It was a tragic incident, as inexplicable as it was shocking. According to local police, Marcelo Pesseghini, a 13-year-old Brazilian boy in Sao Paulo, took his father’s pistol late Sunday night and shot his policemen parents, his grandmother, his great aunt and, the next day, himself.

The killings shocked the country and drew international coverage that pounced on indications that he was inspired by the 1974 murder of a family in Amityville, New York (the basis for the supernatural horror book and subsequent film, The Amityville Horror). But in Brazil, where retaliation against police is common in the longstanding war on organized crime, another theory has gained steam.

A colonel in charge of the mother’s police battalion fed fuel to the fire when he told local radio Wednesday that the boy’s mother, Andreia Pesseghini, had previously provided useful information in an inquiry into police officers suspected in a series of ATM robberies.

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Brazil gang’s slaughter of police sparks fightback

November 19, 2012

Shasta Darlington – CNN, 11/19/2012

Marta Umbelina pulled up in front of her house with her 11-year-old daughter. When she stepped out of the car, she was shot 10 times in the back.

Umbelina was an office worker at Sao Paulo’s Military Police Northern Command — and she is one of nearly 100 cops murdered in Sao Paulo this year, roughly 50 percent higher than 2011.

Most were ambushed while off duty, part of a deadly battle between police and Brazil’s biggest criminal gang, the First Command of the Capital or PCC by its Portuguese acronym.

“Marta was my friend, my colleague, she knew everything about me,” said Simone Mello, a police officer who worked with Marta at a desk job.

“Why her? Why Marta? We’re just very sad,” she said.

In a bid to rein in the PCC, Sao Paulo launched Operation Saturation at the end of October.

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Mean streets, revisited

November 19, 2012

The Economist, 11/17/2012

BETWEEN 1999 and 2011 São Paulo’s murder rate fell by almost three-quarters, turning what had been one of Brazil’s most dangerous states into one of its safest. Now the violence is rising again. In the past two months more than 300 people have died in the state capital in an undeclared war between police and the Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC), a drugs gang, twice the tally for the same period last year. More than 90 police officers have been slain since January; the total for 2011 was 56. This year looks certain to close with the state murder rate back at over ten per 100,000 residents: epidemic level.

At first the state government claimed the rise in killings was a blip. It refused to mention the PCC, apparently for fear of glamorising it or causing panic. That made it look complacent. In October the federal justice minister said he had offered São Paulo reinforcements, but been refused. They were not needed, huffed Antonio Ferreira Pinto, the state’s prickly security secretary. His federal counterpart, Regina Miki, suggested that São Paulo should learn from Rio de Janeiro, which uses federal forces to expel gangsters from its lawless favelas (though Rio’s murder rate remains double São Paulo’s).

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