HomeNewsBriefBrazil Thieves Growing Bolder With Heavily Armed Robberies
BRIEF

Brazil Thieves Growing Bolder With Heavily Armed Robberies

BRAZIL / 9 MAR 2018 BY C.H. GARDINER EN

A recent series of audacious robberies by heavily armed gangs in Brazil suggests crime groups are increasing in firepower and sophistication amid the country's ongoing security crisis. 

A March 9 bank robbery in northern Rio de Janeiro by criminals armed with AK-47s and plastic explosives resulted in a shootout with authorities, local police told O Dia. After using explosives to penetrate cash machines, the gang fired on police and escaped. The use of plastic explosives to open cash machines is a process that is becoming standardized throughout the country with multiple cases reported every month.

Meanwhile, on Brazil’s highways, criminals are targeting trucks and armored vehicles transporting valuable goods, including a March 5 heist in the northeastern state of Alagoas in which criminals hijacked and blew up an armored truck transporting cash. Vinicius Ferrari, the head of the police bank robbery section, told Globo.com that the vehicle's security detail was overwhelmed and captured when they came under fire from high-caliber weapons and grenades. The security company responsible for the transport did not give details on the quantity of cash stolen.

As InSight Crime reported previously, armed robberies of goods in transit are a growing problem throughout Brazil. According to a March 2017 report from a Rio-based trade group, the trend has primarily been driven by thefts in the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, which accounted for the vast majority of cargo thefts reported nationwide between 2011 and 2016. Robberies in São Paulo increased by more than 40 percent between 2011 and 2016, while the number of thefts in Rio more than tripled.

Brazil's most powerful crime group, the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital - PCC), has been linked to a number of bold armed robberies both within Brazil as well as abroad.

In April 2017, the group allegedly carried out a commando-style raid on a transport company in the border town of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay. The perpetrators made off with nearly $12 million, making the operation the biggest theft in Paraguay's history. The PCC has also reportedly carried out cargo robberies in Bolivia.

InSight Crime Analysis

The increased willingness of gangs to attempt armed robberies that once would have been considered too risky indicates that criminal groups in Brazil are gaining in strength and sophistication, a process that may accelerate as the government continues to struggle with a broad-based security crisis.

Recent reports suggest that Brazilian crime groups like the PCC are seeking out more powerful weapons, including from countries with loose gun regulations like Venezuela and the United States. Police data showed a 33 percent spike in arms seizures along the country's borders last year.

SEE ALSO: Brazil News and Profiles

In addition to acquiring greater firepower, Brazilian crime groups also appear to be looking to improve their ability to confront security forces and rivals by paying for combat training from former members of the military special forces, Estadão reported.

Cargo robberies are also prevalent in other countries struggling with the presence of powerful criminal groups, including Mexico and countries in Central America.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BRAZIL / 12 MAR 2015

The Brazilian government has launched a new anti-logging security force unit in an attempt to tackle a lucrative criminal trade…

BRAZIL / 13 APR 2015

Outbreaks of violence in one of Rio de Janeiro's major favelas are raising questions about the long-term effectiveness of Brazil's…

BRAZIL / 7 MAY 2021

The stranger burst into the house, staggering and leaving a trail of blood behind him. He ran into the back,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…

THE ORGANIZATION

Coverage of Fallen Paraguay Prosecutor Makes Headlines

20 MAY 2022

The murder of leading anti-crime prosecutor, Marcelo Pecci, while on honeymoon in Colombia, has drawn attention to the evolution of organized crime in Paraguay. While 17 people have been arrested…