Rio De Janeiro: The prison violence escalated in Brazil on Friday in which at least thirty three inmates were killed, some with their hearts and intestines ripped out.
The prison killing rampage was led by the country’s largest gang, authorities said.
The bloodshed comes days after 60 inmates were killed during rioting at two prisons in a neighboring state. It increases fears that violence could spread, including to the streets of major cities, as gangs vie for influence and territory both inside prisons and in slums where trafficking operations often are based.
The incidents also are becoming a flash point for the government of President Michel Temer, whose administration is struggling with an economic crisis and mounting corruption allegations.
Authorities in Roraima state, on the border with Venezuela, said that they requested help from Brazil’s federal government more than once to deal with its prison crisis but that no support was sent.
“This is a national crisis,” said Uziel Castro, security secretary of Roraima, where the latest massacre happened.
Castro said the violence began Friday at about 2:30 a.m. at the Agricultural Penitentiary of Monte Cristo in the town of Boa Vista. He said it was led by members of the Sao Paulo-based First Command, Brazil’s largest criminal organization.
He said First Command members did not attack those of a rival gang but rather targeted prisoners, although the motives remained unclear.
Castro said that firearms were not involved and that none of the 1,500 inmates in the prison built for about 700 had escaped.
It was not immediately clear whether there was a connection to the gruesome rioting earlier this week in the neighboring state of Amazonas, which officials blamed on a gang war between the First Command and Family of the North.
The two gangs fight over control of prisons and drug routes in northern Brazil along the borders of Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and the Guiana region.
The rioting Sunday and Monday in Amazonas included the country’s worst prison massacre since 1992, with half of the 56 slain at one institution beheaded and several others also dismembered. In another of the riots in the state, four prisoners died.
A total of 184 inmates escaped from Amazonas prisons during the disturbances. As of Thursday afternoon, only 65 had been recaptured.