Dozens killed in the latest violent prison gang war in Brazil

More than 30 people were reportedly killed in a bloody Saturday prison riot in northeastern state of Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil; the second violent massacre in the country this month. Most of the fatalities were believed to be members of the rival drug gangs First Capital Command (PCC), and a group from Red Command. Local prison authorities said the gangs were fighting for control of “one of the world´s most important cocaine markets and trafficking routes.” The violence erupted Saturday night inside the overcrowded Alcaluz prison, which is built for around 600 prisoners only but is now housing more than a thousand. Security forces have to wait till dawn on Sunday to storm the prison because electricity was cut and prisoners involved in the riot were armed with guns.

The fighting lasted for more than 14 hours before the police managed to restore order. “There are probably more than 30 dead,” police investigator Otacilio de Medeiros said during a media briefing on Sunday. Another official said 26 of the fatalities have been verified and the death is expected to rise. In the first week of January, more than 100 prisoners – mostly gang members – were killed in separate riots across the country, including one in northwestern city of Manaus that killed 60 and in Roraima state that left 33 inmates dead. Family members of those killed believed the authorities were not doing everything they can to prevent the bloodbaths. “The (prison) director even said he could not do anything” said the sister of one killed prisoner. “I told the director they were going to go in and kill everyone in Pavilion 4.” “So why didn’t they do anything?” she asked in disbelief. Meanwhile, President Michel Temer assured the public the federal government is ready to provide all the necessary assistance even as investigation continues.
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