HomeNewsBriefMassive Jail Break Highlights Ongoing Turmoil in Brazil's Prisons
BRIEF

Massive Jail Break Highlights Ongoing Turmoil in Brazil's Prisons

BRAZIL / 26 MAY 2017 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

Nearly 90 alleged gang members escaped from a prison in northern Brazil, yet another illustration of how criminal groups have usurped control of the country's prison system, a problem exacerbated by widespread fighting amongst some of country's largest criminal syndicates. 

Eighty-eight inmates used a 30-meter long tunnel to escape from Parnamirim prison in the northern state of Rio Grande do Norte on May 25, reported Globo. Nine of the prisoners have been recaptured. Local officials say it is the biggest jail break ever in Rio Grande do Norte.

The second-largest prison break in Rio Grande do Norte occurred this past January, when 56 inmates escaped from Alcaçuz prison amid a brutal riot that left 26 prisoners dead. All of the victims were reportedly members of a local criminal group called the Sindicato do Crime, who were warring with the rival First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital - PCC).

At least 100 members of Sindicato do Crime were transferred from Alcaçuz to Parnamirim following that riot, according to Estadão. Prison officials and law enforcement agents told the newspaper that the recently-escaped inmates belong to Sindicato do Crime, but did not say whether they were the same gang members who had been transferred from Alcaçuz in January. 

The Parnamirim facility has a maximum capacity of 436 inmates, but was holding 589 at the time of the escape, according to Globo. 

InSight Crime Analysis

While it is unclear whether the recent escape was connected to the January massacre at Alcaçuz, both instances display just how powerful the country's gangs have become within the prisons -- and how impotent the government is to stop them. Local authorities say the prisoners in Parnamirim have been free to roam their respective units and shared spaces ever since 2015, when inmates led a rebellion and broke the bars off their cells. 

SEE ALSO: Brazil News and Profiles

This complete lack of control over the prison system is not limited to Rio Grande do Norte. Almost 100 inmates died during during the first days of 2017 in a series of prison riots in various parts of Brazil related in part to a battle between the country's two largest criminal syndicates, the PCC and the Red Command (Comando Vermelho - CV).

The PCC and CV were born in the prisons. Their fight has spread to various parts of the country, and the recent jail break would suggests that smaller criminal groups are now capable of wielding a high level of control within the prisons as well.  

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.

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 / 15 DEC 2020

On November 14, 2016, about 12 p.m., Carlos Magno de Souza was driving along the asphalt streets of Peruíbe, São…

ARGENTINA / 1 FEB 2022

In 2021, most countries in Latin America and the Caribbean experienced a marked increase in murders. Resurgent violence was to…

BRAZIL / 28 JUL 2022

Former Paraguay president, Horacio Cartes, is accused of money laundering at home, with US authorities also on his tail.

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…