A fight between gangs has triggered the killing in a prison in the State of Pará
At least 52 people have died on Monday in a riot that has already been neutralized in a prison in Altamira (in the State of Pará, north of Brazil). The superintendent of the state prison system has reported that the origin of the riots was a fight between factions that began at seven in the morning (local time) when prisoners of a criminal organization, imprisoned in a prison wing, entered another wing where inmates of another group are locked. The same source has assured that when the incidents began, the facilities were closed and, he added, the prisoners set them on fire, so that some of them died asphyxiated.
Sixteen of the dead in the five hours that the event lasted were beheaded and the rest died asphyxiated. The authorities have detailed that two prison officers were held hostage, but have already been released following the negotiations of the authorities.
This is the second most serious massacre of this year in Brazilian prisons, which are the frequent scene of riots and deaths. Only two months ago, 57 inmates died in a prison complex in Manaus, the capital of the Amazon, where two years ago another revolt in a prison ended with the death of 56 people.
The majority of Brazilian prisons are state-run. They are hypermasified and living conditions are often unfortunate. Usually members of different criminal factions – such as the Vermelho Command of Rio de Janeiro, the PCC (First Capital Command) of São Paolo, the Familia do Norte, etc. – are separated into different galleries to avoid clashes.
In recent years, northern Brazil has become one of the main confrontation scenarios between rival factions. As a result of these confrontations over the dominance of drug trafficking routes and the recruitment of new members in prisons, there are often clashes between bars, which sometimes involve the involvement of smaller groups with local implementation such as the Class A Command.
The violence in prison contrasts with the fall of the murders outside it, in the streets. Negotiations and possible agreements between criminal gangs in most states have resulted in a drop in homicide figures, something that was already happening in São Paulo under the influence of the PCC. Violence Monitor data indicates that the murders have fallen in 2018, when there were 57,117, compared to almost 64,000 in the previous year.
The prison where the riot occurred had an occupation well above its capacity. Although it was prepared for 208 prisoners, there were 384 people held, according to the latest official figures, of 2016.
The secretary of the Pará Penitentiary System, Jarbas Vasconcelos Carmo, explained after the incident that the unit is home to two factions, the Vermelho Command, from Rio, and the Classe A Command, a local group. He said the attack was unexpected: “We did not receive any report from our intelligence that pointed to a possible attack of this magnitude.” The head of state prisons added: “We found decapitated bodies and the others killed by suffocation. We don’t take them all out because the place is still hot. It is an old container-shaped unit. ” The first information points to the victims belonged to the faction of Rio, one of the most powerful in Brazil.
Last May relatives of the inmates demonstrated in front of the Altamira prison so that the prisoners of the criminal gangs were transferred to other prisons, reports Folha de S. Paulo. The authorities refused to carry out the transfers and the prison service of Pará assured that it followed in real time the movements of the prison population. In that jail, preventive prisoners are separated from those convicted.