The History of Criminal Gang Attacks – Part I

By Dialogo
February 27, 2013


The first major attack by a criminal organization in Brazil, with asymmetric conflict and intimidating characteristics, occurred in 2002, a period in which several attacks took place in São Paulo and other cities in the metropolitan region, with gunshots and homemade explosives detonated in public buildings.



Within a five-month range, the Capital’s First Command (PCC) criminal gang performed 14 attacks, resulting in four deaths and 17 injured.



The following year, the same gang led its second major attack, this time with a broader scope. The targets were members of the public safety forces, prosecutors, and members of the judiciary, as well as some of the facilities of state-owned organizations. There are records of 12 attacks and damage to several vehicles by fire or detonation of homemade explosives.



The third major attack, in 2006, was largest ever attack in the country’s criminal history. The criminals carried out simultaneous and coordinated actions, including the execution of public safety agents, detonating homemade explosives in public buildings, using firebombs on public transportation, kidnapping a journalist from O’Globo television network and other smaller offenses, causing terror and panic among the population.



At the time, the PCC led 1,022 attacks throughout the capital of São Paulo and nearby cities, with a total of 56 deaths. Seventy-nine people suspected of participating in the attacks were killed during confrontations with the Police, and another 135 were arrested. This caused the gang to react by bombing and shooting 11 public buildings, torching 56 public transportation vehicles, and looting 26 stores, as well as leading simultaneous rebellions inside 73 penitentiaries.



In that period of time, the intelligence service of the Military Police in São Paulo discovered that leaders of the PCC were planning on sabotaging energy transmission and telephone towers, with the intent of causing a massive power outage in the city and detonating homemade explosives in the stock market building to cause panic and instability in the financial market.



Four months after the incidents in São Paulo, in December 2006, similar violent acts took place in the state of Rio de Janeiro with the same modus operandi. Members of the Comando Vermelho (Red Command) criminal organization that dominates the penitentiaries in Rio de Janeiro and focuses their attacks in the Alemão slums (over 700 slums and 400 thousand residents), performed 36 attacks in three days, killing 19 and injuring 32 others, while setting fire to 10 public transportation vehicles and two other privately owned vehicles.



(To be continued…)



*André Luís Woloszyn, Strategic Affairs Analyst






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