Why São Paulo’s crackdown on PCC will face problems

November 7, 2013

Christopher Looft – In Sight Crime, 11/06/2013

Sao Paulo’s state government is rolling out new measures to combat Brazil‘s PCC prison gang, but there are reasons to doubt the group can be thwarted.

In October, a Sao Paulo court ordered the transfer of First Capital Command (PCC) lieutenant Paulo Cezar Souza Nascimento Junior, alias “Paulinho Neblina,” to the Special Disciplinary System (RDD), a form of solitary confinement, according to a report by Estadoa de Sao Paulo. The transfer of other PCC leaders is expected in the coming days, according to a more recent report by Estadoa.

The move wasn’t the first signal that Sao Paulo’s government has sought to crack down on the PCC, which dominates much of the state’s drug trade and other criminal activities. In a speech given on October 14, Governor Geraldo Alckmin announced the creation of a new task force to identify corrupt police officers working with the group. Alckmin also touted efforts to limit the group’s communications; he said cell phone jamming systems would be put in place in 23 high-security prisons across Sao Paulo state. He also expressed support for the transfer of the group’s leadership to solitary confinement in RDDs.

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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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What’s Killing Brazil’s Police?

December 3, 2012

Graham Denyer Willis – The New York Times, 12/01/2012

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/12/02/sunday-review/02BRAZIL-SUB2/02BRAZIL-SUB2-articleLarge.jpg

Brazilian mounted military police officers patrolled the streets in a shantytown in São Paulo, Brazil, last month.

On the evening of Saturday, Nov. 3, Marta Umbelina da Silva, a military police officer here and a single mother of three, was shot in front of her 11-year-old daughter outside their house in Brasilândia, a poor community on the north side of the city. Records show that Ms. da Silva, 44, had never arrested anyone in her 15-year career. Instead, she was one of hundreds of low-level staffers, who mostly handled internal paperwork.

São Paulo, Latin America’s largest city, continues to descend into a violent blood feud between the police and an organized crime group, the First Command of the Capital, known by its Portuguese initials P.C.C. In 2012, 94 police officers have been killed in the city — twice as many as in all of 2011. Between July and September, on-duty police officers killed 119 people in the metropolitan area. In the first three days of November, 31 people were murdered in the city. These statistics conceal a deeper story about Latin American cities, their police forces and the war on drugs.

Ms. da Silva’s only mistake was that she lived in a poor community. And as a police officer, she was not alone. Almost all killings of São Paulo police officers in 2012 happened while they were off duty. The killings have been concentrated in poorer parts of the city, often occurring on officers’ doorsteps. The dead tended to be known in their communities and lived in neighborhoods controlled by organized crime, far from the protection afforded in wealthy parts of the city.

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Brazil gang’s slaughter of police sparks fightback

November 26, 2012

Shasta Darlington – CNN, 11/25/2012

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.

The government sent at least 500 police troops into the city’s biggest shantytown Paraisopolis, or Paradise City.

They arrested dozens of alleged gang leaders, confiscated arms and drugs and even found a list with the names and addresses of 40 military police on it.

But police aren’t the only casualties in this escalating war.

The number of homicides in Sao Paulo has jumped to almost 1,000 so far this year, largely concentrated in favelas or slums. For January to October 2011 there were 869 homicides, according to Sao Paulo government figures.

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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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Reports: 31 dead over weekend in Sao Paulo as crime wave rises

November 13, 2012

AP/Washington Post, 11/12/2012

Brazilian media are reporting that at least 31 people have been murdered in Sao Paulo in the last three days.

A police spokeswoman says the reported figure is accurate, though she says she has no official statistics.

Early Monday, at least one bus torched was torched in the city.

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Death toll mounts in Brazil as police face down gangs

November 13, 2012

John Lyons – The Wall Street Journal, 11/11/2012

At least 140 people have been killed in the past two weeks amid a deadly confrontation between police and a gang that controls much of São Paulo city’s trade in crack cocaine, state authorities said, prompting some schools and shops to close early in sprawling city outskirts.

Nearly 1,000 homicides have been reported in São Paulo this year, according to state officials, reversing a yearslong trend of declining rates. Some 90 of those killed were current or retired police officers, often killed in ambushes in what investigators say are hits ordered by a São Paulo gang, the First Command of the Capital, or PCC. In 2011, some 56 police were killed.

The wave of killings is likely to refocus attention on crime rates in a country preparing to host two global sporting events, soccer’s 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. Despite full employment and an economic boom, Brazil’s national killing rate still remains one of Latin America’s highest, surpassing that in countries such as Mexico, which routinely makes the news for gruesome drug-related deaths.

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