Gang war in Brazil’s Pedrinhas jail kills 13

October 10, 2013

BBC, 10/10/2013

Thirteen inmates have been killed and at least 30 injured in a fight between rival gangs in a prison in Brazil.

Riot police say they have regained control of Pedrinhas prison in Sao Luis, in the state of Maranhao, and are searching the jail for illegal weapons.

Prison guards said fighting had broken out after they discovered inmates digging an escape tunnel.

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Highway robbery hurting top stock Paranapanema: corporate Brazil

June 13, 2013

Juan Pablo Spinetto & Christiana Sciaudone – Bloomberg, 06/12/2013

Paranapanema SA (PMAM3), Brazil’s biggest refined copper producer and best stock in the past year, is switching to ships from trucks. While the change almost triples transport times, it cuts costs by 21 percent by eliminating a threat found on Brazilian roads: Thieves.

Paranapanema is transporting 65 percent of its domestic deliveries by ship this year; last year it sent nothing by sea. The Dias D’Avila, Brazil-based company plans to move 80 percent by water at year’s end after 15 loads were hijacked along roads in 2012, interim Chief Executive Officer Edson Monteiro said.

“There are a lot of trucks stolen, a lot of violence — we invest a lot in security,” he said in an interview in Rio de Janeiro. “Nothing has been done in the past 10 years to improve transportation by roads. Brazil is very weak on this issue.”

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Brazilian cities hit by crack epidemic

December 27, 2012

Juan Forero – The Washington Post, 12/26/2012

Glassy-eyed, rail-thin and filthy, hundreds of addicts emerged from doorways and alleys as dusk came to the once-grand Luz district in the heart of this city.

After quick transactions with crack dealers, they scrambled for a little privacy to light up their pipes and inhale tiny, highly addictive rocks that go for about $5 each. The image was reminiscent of Washington or New York in the 1980s, when crack cocaine engulfed whole neighborhoods and sparked a dizzying cycle of violence.

But this time, the crack epidemic is happening in Brazil, alarming officials and tarnishing the country’s carefully cultivated image ahead of two major sporting events to be staged here: soccer’s 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

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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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Another 9 slain in Brazil’s biggest city

November 9, 2012

Fox News Latino/EFE, 11/08/2012

Nine people were killed in another night of mayhem here in Brazil’s most populous city following the announcement by federal and regional officials of a new anti-crime plan, authorities said Thursday.

The violence, which had been concentrated in slums and gritty industrial suburbs, spread to the affluent Sao Paulo neighborhood of Jardins, where a gunman trying to rob a gas station died in a shootout with police.

Two other would-be robbers died and a police officer was wounded in a gunfight among cops, criminals and private security guards at a supermarket.

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Brazil jail massacre: vigil marks Carandiru anniversary

October 3, 2012

BBC, 10/03/2012

Hundreds of people in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo have held a multi-faith ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of an infamous prison massacre.

Riot police killed 111 inmates after entering the Carandiru jail, in central Sao Paulo, to put an end to a riot.

Relatives and human rights activists are demanding justice, saying the inmates were shot at point-blank range.

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Freed Brazilian death squad leader killed in Sao Paulo

September 28, 2012

BBC, 09/27/2012

Police in Brazil are searching for the killers of the former head of a Sao Paulo death squad who was shot a month after being released from a lengthy jail term.

Florisvaldo de Oliveira, an ex-policeman known as Corporal Bruno, had served nearly 30 years for murdering at least 50 people.

He was shot dead in an ambush as he drove his family home from church.

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Brazil: land fights up, but fewer activists dead

May 8, 2012

AP/Fox News, 05/06/2012

Conflicts over land issues in Brazil increased last year, although the number of rural activists killed nationally went down slightly, according to a report released by a watchdog group that tallies land-related threats and murders. The report found that at least two ongoing conflicts could turn into violent conflagrations.

The Catholic Land Pastoral ‘s survey released Monday showed murders connected to land disputes fell from 34 in 2010 to 29 in 2011. Murder attempts also fell, from 55 to 38. In spite of the trend, the number of conflicts nationwide rose from 1,186 to 1,363, and the number of death threats grew from 125 to 347.

The report was released on the same day a state judge ordered two former high-ranking police officials to be jailed for their part in the worst massacre carried out during a land conflict in Brazil — an April 1996 clash that saw police open fire on some 2,000 landless peasants, killing 19 of them.

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Rio de Janeiro’s pacification program

January 10, 2011

Adam Isacson – Just the Facts, 01/05/2011

A view of Rio's Complexo de Alemão favela. Photo: Just the Facts

Just before the holidays I accompanied WOLA colleagues on a week-long research trip to Brazil. While In Rio de Janeiro, I saw a scenario that’s starting to look very familiar around Latin America, and that may recur elsewhere in 2011.

It goes something like this:

  1. Decades of government neglect effectively cede a piece of territory, and its population, to violent groups. This neglected territory could be a discrete urban neighborhood; it could be a vast rural region. The violent groups – whether insurgents, pro-government militias, mafias or gangs – recruit unoccupied youth and fund themselves by drug trafficking, extortion and kidnapping. The illegal groups corrupt and penetrate the very government institutions that are supposed to confront them: the security forces, the judicial system, local and sometimes national government.

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