Since early Tuesday morning there have been shootings and fires against vehicles, shops, banks and the headquarters of public organizations in more than twenty towns in Rio Grande do Norte.
The city of Natal and other municipalities in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, in northeastern Brazil, registered, for the third day in a row, new attacks coordinated by a criminal faction, official sources reported Thursday.
“We had new attacks throughout the last morning,” sources from the Rio Grande do Norte Public Security Secretariat told EFE.
The altercations in recent hours have occurred despite the presence of troops from the National Force, an elite body of the Police, sent by the Ministry of Justice the day before.
Since early Tuesday morning, shootings and fires have been reported against vehicles, businesses, banks and the headquarters of public organizations in more than twenty towns in Rio Grande do Norte.
A firefighter tries to control the fire of a burning truck in Parnamirim, in the state of Rio Grande do Norte (Brazil). Photo EFE
The number of attacks has been decreasing since then, but the governor of Rio Grande do Norte herself, Fátima Bezerra, acknowledged the day before to journalists that normality has not yet returned.
Between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, groups of suspects, apparently linked to the “Crime Syndicate” gang, set fire to vehicles in Natal, the regional capital, as well as in other towns, such as Joao Câmara and Sao Paulo do Potengi.
They also burned a supermarket in São Gonçalo do Amarante, according to the G1 portal, of the Globo group.
Agents of the National Force inspect two young people in the city of Natal, capital of the state of Rio Grande do Norte (Brazil). Photo EFE
This has forced the suspension of municipal transport services in Natal, which has nearly 900,000 inhabitants, and in other towns in the metropolitan area.
According to the latest official balance, since the crisis broke out, the Military Police have arrested 57 suspects and confiscated 46 explosive devices, 15 firearms and 10 gasoline cans, in addition to money, drugs and ammunition.
So far, two suspects have died in clashes with police. One of them was named as one of the organizers of the criminal offensive and was killed in Joao Pessoa, capital of the neighboring state of Paraíba.
The murder of a merchant and its possible relationship with the wave of attacks are also being investigated.
Brazilian authorities suspect that behind the serious disturbances is the Crime Syndicate, a gang that dominates drug trafficking in the region and operates from inside prisons.
Agents of the National Force carry out patrols in the city of Natal. Photo EFE
The Crime Syndicate was born a decade ago as a dissident of the First Command of the Capital (PCC), which is the largest criminal organization in Brazil and already has ramifications in other Latin American countries.
Preliminary investigations indicate that the chaos sown in recent days in Rio Grande do Norte is a response to the recent tightening of public policies to combat crime and the poor conditions of the regional prison system.
Human rights organizations denounce that the minimum conditions to which prisoners are entitled are not respected.
The government announced on Wednesday the dispatch to Rio Grande do Norte of a federal force of prison agents to coordinate the “monitoring and custody of prisoners.”
However, “within the units, the situation is under control. There is no riot, no escape attempt, nothing out of the ordinary,” the state Penitentiary Administration Secretariat told AFP.
Source: EFE and AFP