Members of the most powerful drug gang in Brazil killed 31 inmates in a penitentiary on Friday, decapitating and cutting off the hearts of most of them, to take revenge for a separate massacre that left 56 dead this week.
The bloody people in the Monte Cristo prison in the Amazonian state of Roraima, led by members of the First Capital Command (CPC) gang, have raised concerns that months of violence between criminal groups controlling Brazilian prisons have escaped control.
The CCP itself was targeted Sunday in the neighboring state of Amazonas in the worst Brazilian caressing for more than two decades. In a cell phone video that circulated widely on social media, self-described PCC members are seen hacking away from the bodies littering an outdoor patio inside the prison.
“You killed our brothers, did not you?” Look, look what will happen to you! It’s a revenge for what you did to our brothers, “a CCP member is told on the video that dozens of bodies are found in blood-thick pits.
A victim, naked chest and wearing sky blue shorts, began to move on the ground. The inmate who takes the video calls the other gang members “We have a live one!” Before another gang member rushes down and cuts off the victim’s head with a white-handled barbecue knife. Officials said the riot in the largest prison in Roraima was controlled by elite police forces. Earlier, authorities put the death toll at 33, but Friday night lowered that figure to 31 deaths. Violence between rival drug gangs in the same prison had already caused 10 deaths in October.
Roraima’s senior security official, Uziel de Castro, blamed Friday’s violence in the CCP’s public prison. He later added that it was believed that most of the detainees killed Friday were not members of the group responsible for this week’s attack on the CCP in Amazonas and actually had no gang affiliation. The Minister of Justice, Alexandre Moraes, insisted that the government had control over the Brazilian prison system – the fourth largest in the world and home to more than 620,000 detainees.
Security experts have predicted more violence in gang-controlled penitentiaries in Brazil following Monday’s massacre. “It gets really ugly. This situation is clearly snowball and there is nothing the government can do to stop the violence in the short term, “said Rafael Alcadipani, a public security expert at the think tank of the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Sao Paulo.
“We pay the price for 50 years of total neglect of the penitentiary system.”
During the uprising on Monday, members of the CCP were attacked by the North Family drug faction, which controls the Anisio Jobim penitentiary in Amazonas, according to officials. According to the authorities, the North family is expected to dominate cocaine trafficking in the Amazon from Colombia and Peru. The group is allied to the drug tape of the Red Command based in Rio de Janeiro, the second faction of Brazil after PCC.
For more than two decades, the CCP and the Red Command have maintained a difficult alliance, ensuring that a steady flow of drugs and guns flowed through the long jungle border of Brazil. But about six months ago, the CCP and Red Command separated, while PCC was moving to take control of lucrative drug routes across the border with Paraguay and become the dominant band in Brazil.
Experts say that CCP has also moved to infiltrate areas in the base of the Red Command of Rio de Janeiro, still fueling a turf war that threatens to pour into the streets of the largest cities in Brazil. Since the split, Red Command has allied with smaller regional gangs to confront the CCP, mainly in northern and northeastern Brazil, where prison violence has boiled over the week.
Alcadipani, the public security expert, said that the prison system in Brazil was “self-regulated” by the gangs and that massacres were rare until the last few months because of a truce between the country’s biggest criminal factions. “But we see that as soon as we have a gang war, these killings will inevitably occur because the state has no control over the prisons,” said Alcadipani.