Renegade Police Officers Join Gang Warfare in Brazil
In Brazil’s biggest city, Sao Paulo, where murder rates and human rights abuses are already alarmingly high, a new crime wave involving Brazil’s own police officers, has sent death rates soaring to new levels.
Since May of this year, violence in Sao Paulo has increased exponentially, due to a dispute between Brazilian police and criminal organisation, the PCC. In Brazilian Portuguese language, the PCC, or Primeiro Comando da Capital, means First Command of The Capital, a faction that has greatly increased its presence in the city in recent years. This new crime wave resulted in 571 deaths in October alone, as well as 90 police officers over the course of this year.
Earlier in the year, a special unit of the Brazilian police force attempted a large-scale drugs coup, killing six members of the PCC. However, further police attempts to bring down the organisation, involving extremely violent means, resulted in the deaths of a large number of police officers who were targeted while off-duty.
The killings ignited the rage of a number of officers within the force, who, it is claimed, retaliated by entering poor villages with links to the PCC and conducted a number of shootings. Reports also state that police have been involved in similar revenge killings, which have gone unchecked for many years.
Not only do Brazilian police not have the resources to effectively deal with such an organisation, but their violent retaliatory actions have left the public in the dangerous hands of an anarchic criminal organisation and an unpredictable police force.
On the outskirts of Brazil’s 700 favelas, drugs-related criminal organisations retain almost absolute power, while many others are controlled by groups of corrupt police officers exercising unlawful control over the population, demanding money for their protection.
Amnesty International is calling for an independent body to be established in the county to investigate the human rights violations with the necessary authority to conduct investigations into the entire police force.
A spokesman for the state of Sao Paulo insisted that the appropriate action was being taken to arrest criminal members from all areas of the police force.
However, in May 2006, the PCC devastated the city by killing 50 prison and police officers, and 400 civilians. This immense demonstration of power from the PCC throughout the city indicated a level of corruption and negligence within public protection forces, which allowed such an atrocity to take place.
Many within Sao Paulo fear that the same level of extreme violence will be repeated, this time with greater fatalities. It is clear that certain members of the police force are now conducting their own criminal activities, risking the lives of civilians within the city by pitting renegade police against criminal organisations, in a battle of potentially devastating magnitude.