Brazil News

Massive Jail Break Highlights Ongoing Turmoil in Brazil's Prisons

Massive Jail Break Highlights Ongoing Turmoil in Brazil's Prisons

Nearly 90 alleged gang members escaped from a prison in northern Brazil, yet another illustration of how criminal groups have usurped control of the country's prison system, a problem exacerbated by widespread fighting amongst some of country's largest criminal syndicates. 

Brazil Profile

Brazil

Brazil

Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy, has seen some important security advances in recent years, taking dozens of communities in Rio de Janeiro from criminal gangs through its innovative UPP security program. However, it faces a serious threat from its two largest domestic criminal gangs, the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando Capital - PCC) and Red Command (Comando Vermelho), who are becoming increasingly involved in the international drug trade, as well as operating extortion and kidnapping rings at home. Militia groups composed mostly of police are another source of violent crime, extorting entire neighborhoods and carrying out extrajudicial killings. The country is one of the biggest cocaine markets in the world and is an increasingly important drug trafficking transit point for cocaine shipments heading to Europe.

More Brazil News

  • Brazil Red Command 'Members' Arrested in Paraguay

    Paraguay captured five alleged members of Brazilian gang Red Command (Comando Vermelho), a sign of Brazil's organized crime stretching out into the neighboring country in the wake of recent security crackdowns in Rio de Janeiro.

  • RioReal: Oba! Obama in Rio

    (Reprinted with permission from RioReal.)

    There were headsets for the Portuguese translation of U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech to an audience of over 2,000 at  Rio’s art deco version of the Paris Opera, but Rinaldo Gaudêncio Americo and his two bodyguards (“Jack” and “Bauer”) passed. Rinaldo was dressed up as Obama, and Obama wouldn’t need a headset.

  • Obama's Visit to Rio 'Favela' Highlights Security Strategy

    • On his first visit to Latin America, President Barack Obama has scheduled a visit to Rio de Janeiro's most famous 'favela,' or shantytown, Cidade de Deus, a nod to the city's recent efforts to quell criminal activity in these poor neighborhoods. At Americas Quarterly, contributing blogger Jason Marczak has a report on some of the NGOs and social advocacy groups active in Mare, another one of Rio's larger favelas. The magazine has more analysis about what awaits Obama during his first trip to Latin America, including what kind of influence could Japan's current nuclear disaster could exert during the stopover in Chile. In an Op-Ed, Obama said energy and economy are the top issues for the trip but discussions over security policy may take precedent once Obama arrives in Brazil on Saturday, and later El Salvador on March 22.
  • Video - Journalist in Rio Talks about Obama's Visit

    InSight Co-director Steven Dudley spoke with Taylor Barnes, a journalist based in Rio de Janeiro, about U.S. President Barack Obama's upcoming visit to Brazil and Barnes' perceptions of the security strategy implemented in the city.

    Barnes is based in Rio as the recipient of the Inter-American Press Association award, and writes for the Miami Herald and the Christian Science Monitor.

  • RawFeed: Inside a Rio Favela's Walls, Prejudices

    The Brazil that President Barack Obama will visit in the coming days is one that is being torn asunder by drug trafficking and violence. Akin to the violence that places like Los Angeles experienced in the 1980s around the crack epidemic, this situation is worst in the famous 'favelas,' or shantytowns in places like Rio de Janeiro.

    The video below, from a TV series that aired in February, gives you a glimpse inside one of those favelas, the Complexo do Alemao. It is courtesy of Roberto "Beto" Chaves, a civil police officer, who also works with the local NGO Afroreggae, an effort to get former traffickers to leave criminal gangs behind for good.

  • InSight: A Carnival of Police

    Carnival in Latin America means revelry, skin and ‘fiesta,’ or ‘festa’ as you might say in Portuguese. But it also means organized crime. From Rio to Barranquilla to Port au Prince, organized criminals have always financed the biggest party of the year.

    So it was strange to see this year that one samba school from the hillside slum of Salgueiro in Rio de Janeiro would have some of their members dressed as police. The homage to the security forces, however, may reflect the winds of change in that city.

  • Brazil's Justice Ministry: Map of Violence Against Youth

    A report (pdf) by the Brazilian Ministry of Justice informs how murder amongst young people has increased to levels never seen before. This Map of Violence offers detailed information giving an overview on murder rates, including those that were caused by traffic accidents.

  • RawFeed: Favela Life, Before and After Police Takeover

    As the Rio de Janeiro security forces continue moving community policing units into slums long controlled by criminal gangs, InSight brings an on-the-ground view about what the "pacification" process looks like for some 'favela' residents.

  • Brazil Cleans Up Police As Well As Slums

    Rio de Janeiro has named its first female police chief after a purge of the city's civil force revealed widespread corruption, as the struggle continues to pacify the favelas before the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016.

  • RawFeed: A Push for Peace in Rio de Janeiro

    A blogger in Rio de Janeiro gives an on-the-ground view of some of the security advances in the the city's favelas, even as other problems – a still-powerful drug trafficker allegedly pulling the strings from prison and the avaliabilty of crack on the streets – lurk in the background.

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