Antonio Ferreira Pinto, Sao Paulo security secretary

São Paulo's secretary for public security has resigned, following criticism of his handling of a wave of gang-police violence in the Brazilian state.

Antonio Ferreira Pinto resigned on November 21, reported BBC Brasil. He is being replaced by São Paulo’s former attorney general, Fernando Grella.

Criticism had been mounting against Ferreira over a wave of violence which has been attributed to revenge killings between São Paulo’s police and the First Capital Command (PCC) prison gang. Some 93 police officers have been killed so far this year, compared to 47 in the whole of 2011.

InSight Crime Analysis

The violence is thought to have been driven by the police taking tougher measures against the PCC, breaking a truce they allegedly brokered with the gang in 2006. Ferreira’s decision to remove some powers from the civil police, handing them to an elite unit of the military police, the ROTA, may have contributed to this, as BBC Brasil notes.

In his outgoing speech, Ferreira defended the role of the ROTA and denied that he took powers away from the civil police, reported Veja. He also pointed to successes during his tenure, with São Paulo’s homicide rate dropping from 35 per 100,000 in 1999 to 10 per 100,000 in 2011.

Ferreira clashed with Brazil's Justice Minister Eduardo Cardozo last month when the minister accused Ferreira of refusing help from the government to stem the violence.

The state and federal governments have since devised a plan to work together to halt the killings. One measure they agreed upon was the transfer of PCC members from state prisons to federal institutions. Two PCC commanders have been moved to Porto Velho prison in northwest Brazil. However, in the 24 hours leading up to Ferreira's resignation, at least another 10 people were killed and 13 more injured, according to Ultimo Segundo.