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January 12, 2017

Cocaine gang war drives Brazil prison bloodbaths

World

January 12, 2017

SAO PAULO: When beheaded, disemboweled corpses stacked up in Brazilian jails, it looked like bloody chaos caused by overcrowding.

But experts see method in last week’s madness.

They say it was part of a war between organised drug gangs in one of the world’s most important cocaine markets and trafficking routes.

Last week’s series of massacres left 100 prisoners dead -- many of them active members of gangs, authorities said. The government has deployed 200 emergency personnel to secure the two prisons where the most blood was shed.

The largest bloodbath appeared to be an orchestrated mass killing targeting members of Brazil’s biggest gang, the First Capital Command (PCC).

It was thought to be a backlash by the PCC’s rivals for its violent expansion.

Authorities say the Sao Paulo-based PCC seized control of the country’s southern supply routes last year by gunning down powerful drug trafficker Jorge Rafaat.

Its expansion has made it an outright enemy of the second-biggest Brazilian gang, the Red Command (CV), based in Rio de Janeiro.

After the Rafaat killing gave it control of a key Paraguayan border route, the PCC then turned its attention to securing control of the north.

“What it wants is to dominate the whole of Brazil,” said Marcio Sergio Christino, a public prosecutor of organised crime.

“The Red Command used to use southern trafficking routes that are now controlled by the PCC,” said Christino.

After the killing, the Red Command “had to look for alternative routes in the north,” he said.

There it joined forces with the third most-powerful faction in Brazil, Family of the North (FDN), “to forge an alternative route to the one used by the PCC.”

Authorities said FDN members were the ones who beheaded and mutilated PCC members in the biggest of last week’s massacres, in a jail in the northern state of Amazonas that left 60 people dead.

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