Brazil Creates an Anti-Piracy Force Following Attacks on the Amazonas River
By Dialogo June 22, 2011
Brazilian authorities have created an anti-piracy unit targeting attacks on the Amazonas River in the northern state of Pará. The unit will begin to operate in June in the strategic area of Belém’s Guajará Bay and will enable the security forces to respond to these criminal actions more quickly.
The unit is composed of eight vessels and fifty police officers, according to the daily The Guardian. This unit became public knowledge after the most recent attack last week, in which eleven heavily armed robbers assaulted a passenger ship en route to the city of Belém.
Joao Bosco Rodrigues, head of the specialist police division in Pará, affirmed that the unit is another tool with which to “combat and prevent” pirate activity in the Amazon region. “This group will be there to react to any kind of demand on our rivers,” he declared to the British daily.
Witnesses to the most recent attack affirmed that the robbers traveled in small motorboats, firing into the air. Once on board, they threatened to shoot the 140 passengers, who included adults and children.
“They humiliated everybody,” passenger Artur Cesar affirmed to the Diário do Pará [Pará Daily]. “They put guns to the children’s heads and even said they would cut the fingers off those who didn’t hand over their rings. There were pistols, revolvers, lots of weapons.” Benivaldo Carvalho said that he was struck on the head by the pirates. “It was two hours of terror, humiliation, and powerlessness. They pointed their guns at us and said they were going to kill us.”
The targeting of the Brazilian Amazon by pirates already made headlines in 2001 with the murder of Sir Peter Blake, a famous sailor and ecologist who was shot by a gang known as ‘the water rats.’ In March of this year, a young sailor was murdered when two boatloads of pirates boarded his vessel.