In The Media

Brazil's deadly prison riot is just one piece of a bigger drug gang war

by Will Carless (feat. Robert Muggah)

PRI
January 3, 2017

At least 56 people were killed during a prison riot over the weekend in the northern city of Manaus. A total of 184 prisoners escaped from that and nearby prisons.

Sérgio Fontes, security secretary for Amazonas state, home to the prison, cited an ongoing war between rival drug gangs as the cause of the violence. The riots finally ended Monday. As of Tuesday, officials had recaptured about 50 of the escaped inmates and a manhunt was underway for the rest.

The victims — many of them beheaded and thrown over the prison walls — mainly included members of Brazil’s feared First Command gang, known by its Portuguese initials PCC, according to local and international media reports.

That identifying detail has security experts particularly worried.

The clash between the First Command and the Northern Family and its allies could spell more trouble to come.

“It is the death blow to a decade-long truce between the country’s major factions, especially the PCC and the Red Command, who are aligned with the Northern Family,” Robert Muggah, research director of Rio-based security think tank Igarapé Institute, wrote in an email. “It appears to be as much about control over national prisons as the country’s drug trade.”

Brazil’s drug gangs are notoriously fierce.

Both the PCC and the Red Command, the country’s No. 1 and 2 criminal organizations, were born inside the chaotic prison system in the early 1990s. The gangs control much of the drug trade in the largest cities. Favelas, or marginalized neighborhoods, are typically demarcated by which gang is in charge.

Historically, the São Paulo-based PCC has largely left Rio de Janeiro’s lucrative drug trade in the hands of the Red Command, Muggah explained. But the killings in Manaus are more evidence that the São Paulo gang is looking for more territory in Rio and elsewhere and that the Red Command and its allies are fighting back.

Last month, media outlet O Globo reported that the PCC had taken root in Rio’s massive Rocinha favela. The move is a gutsy incursion into Rio de Janeiro by the criminal organization, and experts like Muggah worry that it will lead to increased intergang violence in the months to come.

Exacerbating the situation, Rio state is in a dire financial crisis.

For months, the state hasn’t been able to pay public employees, including police officers, on time.

A “pacifying” program that deployed military police into Rio’s favelas is now considered largely a failure, as drug gangs have retaken control of many of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods.

For favela residents, internecine wars between different drug dealer factions are just one of the many threats the population has to endure, said Sergio Leal, a resident of the Cidade de Deus favela in Rio.

“Look, we live in fear of a lot of things. Fear of drug violence, fear of violence from the police, fear of drug dealers fighting between themselves or one faction taking over from the other. That’s just the fear we live under,” Leal said.


Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTERS
 
UPCOMING EVENTS

CONFERENCE
Security, Commerce and FDI in Canada

October 1, 2019

Toronto, Ontario | GET TICKETS

LUNCHEON
Priorities for the Next Government

October 24, 2019

Vancouver, British Columbia


SEARCH
THE CGAI PODCAST NETWORK

"He will have much work ahead of him" — Canada's new ambassador to China & more

September 16, 2019

(feat. Colin Robertson, Hugh Stephens, and Gordon Houlden)



Extreme Embedding

September 18, 2019

(feat. Stéfanie von Hlatky, Stephen Saideman, Dur-e-Aden, and Tone Danielsen)



The Conclusion of Canada's Mali Mission

September 13, 2019

(feat. David Perry and Chris Roberts)



EXPERTS IN THE MEDIA

“Obedient Proxy? Iranian-Huthi Ties In Focus After Saudi Oil Facility Attacks“

by Golnaz Esfandiari (feat. Thomas Juneau), RadioFreeEurope, September 19, 2019


LATEST TWEETS

HEAD OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 1800, 421-7th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 4K9

 

OTTAWA OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 5S6

 

Phone: (613) 288-2529
Email: contact@cgai.ca
Web: cgai.ca

 

Making sense of our complex world.
Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.

 

© 2002-2019 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001

 


Sign in with Facebook | Sign in with Twitter | Sign in with Email