Sunday, May 14, 2006


Gang violence in São Paulo

Since last Friday, May 12th, the State of São Paulo has been facing a number of concerted rebellions in prisons and a surge of violence on streets.
Several prisons were overtaken by the convicts, who made many hostages. Many policemen, on and off duty, were murdered; several Police Stations were attacked.

Brazilian media says that the rebellions are commanded by the organized crime; although arrested, the criminal leaders would have sent orders to the other prisons to start rebellions and to the members of the gang outside prison to start riots.
The cause of the rebellions would be the transferring of about 600 criminals to new prisons, of high security.

The main criminal organization in São Paulo is called Primeiro Comando da Capital (First Command of the Capital). The gang is funded by extortion, drug dealing and bank robberies. The gang was created inside the prisons; most leaders are arrested, but they keep control of activities inside and outside the prisons.

Organized crime in Brazil is concentrated in two States: São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. In Rio, there are a few gangs, the most known is Comando Vermelho (Red Command).

The origin of the gangs in Brazil dates back to the period of military dictatorship. Political prisoners were kept confined along other criminals. The political prisoners were usually better educated, and passed their knowledge (how to organize, how to fight the Police, guerrilla tactics) to the other criminals. The first gangs resulted from this combination of aptitudes; the name Vermelho (Red) in Comando Vermelho is a reference to the "Reds", communists.

Today, São Paulo is besieged by crime.
Read news by BBC and CNN.

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