Homicide rates skyrocket fuelled by growing local drug market and increasing demand for cocaine in Brazil and Europe.
A new prison uprising in Brazil on Sunday left four dead, adding to the chaos in the country’s penitentiary system that has seen nearly 100 inmates die in the past week in a brutal gang war.
The latest violence took place at the Desembargador Raimundo Vidal Pessoa jail in the centre of the jungle city of Manaus, according to a statement from the government penitentiary agency in Amazonas state, where the facility is located.
Three of the dead were beheaded while one was strangled. It did not give a motive for the killings and it was not yet known if drug gangs were involved.
In the past week, 64 inmates have been killed in prisons in or around Manaus. A prison uprising in the neighbouring state of Roraima left at least 33 dead.
Behind the bloodshed is an escalating feud between Brazil’s biggest drug gangs, which ended two decades of an uneasy working relationship about six months ago.
Brazil’s most powerful gang, the Sao Paulo-based First Capital Command (PCC) split with the Rio de Janeiro-based Red Command gang when the PCC took over drug trading routes in Brazil’s southeast.
Previously, the two groups worked together to ensure a heavy flow of drugs and arms over Brazil’s borders.
Members of the PCC were targeted last Sunday in the first violent outbreak, which left 56 dead, many decapitated and butchered. It was Brazil’s deadliest uprising in more than two decades.
Five days later, PCC members killed 33 people at a Roraima state prison. Brutal scenes captured on a mobile phone video spread widely on social media, in which the inmates are seen hacking away at bodies in acts of revenge.
Experts say the PCC is moving to infiltrate areas in the Red Command’s home base of Rio and infiltrating Brazil’s Amazon region in efforts to control cocaine-smuggling river routes.