Brazil has been swept with a rash of violence as gangs react to new President Jair Bolsonaro’s crackdown on crime – which includes military takeovers of Brazilian cities and shoot-to-kill orders carried out by teams of sharpshooters.
Five hundreds national guard troops have been deployed to the north-eastern town of Fortaleza in the state of Ceará, after authorities have been overwhelmed by more than a week of violence which saw more than 160 attacks, reports the Guardian.
Security forces say three rival drug gangs have come together to carry out more than 160 attacks in retaliation for a proposal to end the practice of separating gang factions inside Brazil’s prisons.
Buses, mail trucks and cars have been torched. Police stations, city government buildings and banks have been attacked with petrol bombs and explosives. On Sunday, criminals blew up a telephone exchange, leaving 12 cities without mobile service. Other explosions have damaged a freeway overpass and a bridge. –Guardian
There have been 148 arrests linked to the attacks, while at least 20 prisoners suspected of ordering the attacks haver been transferred from state to federal prisons – where Bolsonaro’s administration says it won’t back down on its plan to combat gang activity.
— Ross Dayton (@rdayt_) January 7, 2019
Homicide rates in Fortaleza and other north-eastern cities have soared in recent years, as a territorial wars have broken out between Brazil’s most notorious gangs; the First Capital Command (known as the PCC in Portuguese) from São Paulo and the Red Command (Comando Vermelho) from Rio de Janeiro, which have locked horns with the Fortaleza-based Guardians of the State and the Northern Family from Amazonas state.
The PCC and the Red Command are locked in a bitter fight to control Brazil’s drugs trade, and Fortaleza is seen as a strategic prize because it is the closest large port to Europe and Africa.