Brazilian prison gang the PCC has threatened to commit a series of attacks during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, highlighting both the complex security challenges faced by the state during the event, and the power of the group to exploit these weaknesses.
Authorities in Brazil intercepted phone calls in which members of the First Capital Command (PCC) promised a "World Cup of terror" and spoke of starting a prison strike if their leaders were moved into solitary confinement in high security prisons. They warned there would be retaliatory attacks on the streets if authorities tried to break up the strike, and also threatened attacks during the 2014 elections, reported Estadao.
The group's threats referenced calls for the arrest of 175 suspected members of the PCC and the special internment of 32 members, including the leadership of the gang, following a major investigation into the group's criminal activities and its links to corrupt officials.
Military Police Commander Colonel Benedito Roberto Meira issued an alert regarding the possible attacks, warning his troops to be particularly careful when parking their cars or going home.
InSight Crime Analysis
The PCC threats serve as a reminder that, despite the heavy focus on improving security in the run-up to the World Cup, Brazil's situation remains precarious -- it would only take a few well targeted attacks to sow chaos at the event. The group, with 6,000 imprisoned members in São Paulo state alone, and thousands more both in prison and on the ground throughout the country, would not lack the power or coordination to make good on its promises.
SEE ALSO: PCC Profile
Adding to the fragile security situation is the fact that the PCC is not the only group the authorities need to be concerned about. So far, they have focused pre-tournament security efforts on the cities hosting World Cup events and particularly on the PCC and Rio de Janeiro's major criminal group, the Red Command (Comando Vermelho), but have failed to address the threat posed by smaller criminal groups in other states.
The strategy of targeting only big cities could also prove problematic in regards to averting possible attacks by the PCC, which now has a significant presence in states such as Parana, Mato Grosso do Sul, Bahia and Minas Gerais, as well as members operating internationally.