A homicide scene in Minas Gerais

Brazilian government officials have reported an eight percent increase in violent crime in Minas Gerais for 2012, pointing to rising security challenges in areas beyond Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

The State Department of Social Defense (Seds) reported that violent crime rose 7.8 percent in 2012, as compared with 2011, in the southeastern Brazilian department. Over 71,500 violent crimes were registered in 2012, nearly 5,700 more than the previous year, along with 62 more homicides than 2011. R7 News noted that the department’s 2012 murder rate could be even higher than reported, as the Minas government does not provide murder statistics.

The departmental capital and country’s third largest city, Belo Horizonte, registered a 5.3 percent rise in violent crime and a 1.8 percent increase in homicides, reported G1 Globo, with violent crime defined as murder and attempted murder, rape and attempted rape, theft, kidnapping and extortion.

State Secretary of Social Defense Romulo de Carvalho Ferraz cited the drug trade as one significant factors linked to the rise in violent crime.

InSight Crime Analysis

Other regions of Brazil also reported high crime levels for 2012 and the beginning of 2013. São Paulo saw a dramatic 18.2 percent rise in homicides, thanks in part to the ongoing bloody feud between local gangs and the police forceFolha reported that the southern city of Araraquara, located northeast of São Paulo, registered a homicide rate of one murder every three days in early 2013, while Grande Vitoria, capital of Espirito Santo, saw a particularly violent week in December 2012, culminating with five deaths registered in three hours, according to G1 Globo. Meanwhile, in November 2012, the small northern state of Sergipe was reported by the same news source to have the sixth highest homicide rate in Brazil, according to a Ministry of Justice list that placed Alagoas, Espirito Santo, Paraiba, Para and Parnambuco, respectively, in the top five and did not include São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro.

Statistics pointed to drops in Rio de Janeiro murder rates in 2012, likely spurred by the deployment of special police forces (UPPs) in favelas traditionally run by drug gangs. However, militias responsible for invading the favelas prior to the UPP arrival have been criticized for pre-announcing the invasions, thus giving criminal groups time to relocate. Increasing crime in other regions of the country could be the result of criminal gangs formerly ruling Rio’s favelas moving outside the city in search of new territory.  At minimum, the data and news reports suggest the need to expand the focus of new security measures to include regions beyond the country’s two largest cities.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Former Guatemalan Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla -- a decorated war hero and a longtime US ally -- finds himself treading water amidst a flurry of accusations about corruption and his connections to drug traffickers. López Bonilla is not the most well-known suspect in the cases against...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...