HomeNewsBriefChaos Unfolds in Northeast Brazil Just Days Before Olympics
BRIEF

Chaos Unfolds in Northeast Brazil Just Days Before Olympics

BRAZIL / 3 AUG 2016 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

Shootings, arson attacks and prison riots have engulfed a northeastern state of Brazil, drawing attention to the major security challenges in an area that has recently been overshadowed by the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. 

Vandals have burned at least 26 buses, fired shots at seven public buildings and set off explosives in 23 cities across the northeastern state of Rio Grande do Norte, reported Folha. Seventeen prisoners also escaped from a penitentiary facility in Natal, where most of the disturbances are occurring. In total, authorities have registered 80 such incidents since July 29 and arrested at least 70 suspects, according to El País

The general insecurity paralyzed the public transportation system over the weekend, and only 50 percent of the normal buses are currently in circulation. Universities cancelled classes on July 29 and are not expected to reopen until August 4, reported Folha.  

Rio Grande do Norte Gov. Robinson Lima said the outbreak of violence was in response to the installation last week of cellphone blockers in the Parnamirim prison. Many of those who ordered the attacks are serving time in Parnamirim, according to Wallber Virgolino, head of the state's Justice and Security secretariat.

The group being blamed for what the authorities have called "acts of terrorism" is known as the Crime Syndicate, a dissident faction of the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital - PCC), one of Brazil's biggest gangs. 

Interim President Michel Temer authorized the army to deploy 1,200 troops to the state in an attempt to restore order. The extra security forces are expected to remain in the area for two weeks. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The international spotlight is fixed on Rio de Janeiro, host to the Olympic Games that kick off on August 5. Not without warrant, much attention has been paid to the potential security threats criminal and terrorist groups could pose during the games. The chaotic scene unfolding in Rio Grande do Norte is a reminder, however, that the country's northeast has become -- and will continue to be long after the closing ceremony -- Brazil's principal hotspot for violence.

SEE ALSO: Brazil News and Profiles

While violence has fallen significantly in southern Brazil since the turn of the 21st Century, the opposite is true for the northeast. From 2001 to 2011, homicide rates fell by 76 percent and 44 percent in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, respectively, but it increased four-fold in Rio Grande do Norte. All five of Brazil's most violent states in 2015 were located in the northeast. 

The events in Rio Grande do Norte are also a sign of how prisons generate insecurity in the region. More than 10 percent of all homicides in the state are linked to prisons, officials say. This is due to the strength of the gangs as well as the excessive overcrowding and weak control authorities have over the prisons. The state's facilities are reportedly at more than double their maximum capacity, and nearly 300 inmates have escaped since the beginning of 2015.

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 / 26 MAR 2014

Following new outbreaks of violence in Rio de Janeiro's favelas, Brazil's authorities have announced plans to send in troops to…

BRAZIL / 5 FEB 2016

A video has emerged depicting the beheading of a teenager in Brazil, in what could be an escalation of a…

BRAZIL / 2 OCT 2017

In early July, authorities in Brazil captured one of the world's most wanted drug trafficking suspects: Luiz Carlos da Rocha,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…