NATAL: The most recent brutal massacre of detainees involving suspected members of gangs in Brazil killed 26 detainees, most of whom were beheaded, officials said Sunday.
The bloodbath erupted Saturday night in the overcrowded Alcacuz prison in the northeast of Rio Grande do Norte.
Similar violence in other prisons in Brazil left about 100 detainees deceased in early January.
“Twenty-six deaths have been verified,” said Caio Bezerra, public security officer of the state, at a press conference. According to the authorities, about 30 people were reportedly killed while collecting bodies and body parts.
Security forces stormed the prison at dawn and restored order after 14 hours of violence, local authorities said.
The authorities reported that members of two drug gangs collided violently after leaving different parts of the prison.
One family member said the authorities did not seem to be doing everything they could – even after she had warned the prison director.
“The director (of the prison) even said he could do nothing” when he was told that an uprising was taking place, said Adriana Feliz, the sister of a detainee.
“I told the director that they were going to kill everyone in Pavilion 4,” she added. “So why did not they do anything?”
President Michel Temer said on Twitter that the federal government was ready to provide “all the necessary help”.
In addition, officials from the southern state of Paraná reported that 28 prisoners escaped from a prison in the city of Curitiba after detainees blew up a wall and fired at the police.
In Alcacuz, security forces surrounded the prison, but had to wait until the first light on Sunday to knock out the site with armored vehicles, officials said.
The prisoners had cut electricity and said they had guns.
The prison, just outside the capital Natal, was built for a maximum of 620 detainees, but currently houses 1,083, the Justice Ministry said.
The riot was reportedly a clash between Brazil’s largest drug gang, the First Capital Command (CPC) and a group allied with its main Red Command, the Brazilian media.
Experts say that violence is part of a war between drug gangs that are struggling to control one of the world’s largest cocaine markets and trafficking routes.
War of Drug Gangs
The violence in the first week of January left about 100 prisoners dead – many of them active gang members, authorities said.
Many victims have been decapitated, crushed or dismembered, officials said.
The largest bloodbath in the town of Manaus, in the northwest, left about 60 prisoners dead. It was a massive, orchestrated assassination of the CCP members. Dozens of detainees are still missing.
A second episode of violence in the state of Roraima killed 33 people.
It was thought to be a backlash by the CCP’s rivals for its violent expansion.
The northern states of Brazil, bordering the main cocaine producers, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, are combat zones in the drug trade.
Prisons – and throughout Brazil – are often under de facto control of drug gangs, whose outward conflicts are between detainees.
Overcrowding exacerbates the problem, activists say.
The Brazilian prison population has been inflated by efforts to curb the drug trade.
Prisons in the country occupy 622,000 detainees, mostly young black men, according to a report from the Ministry of Justice in 2014. He found that 50 percent more capacity was needed.
Brazil has the fourth largest prison population in the world after the United States, China and Russia, according to the report.
Temer is under pressure on the issue.
After the two riots at the beginning of the month, he announced that the federal government would spend $ 250 million to build new prisons.
But human rights defenders and experts wonder whether a larger proportion of prisons is the solution.