New Brazil prison riot kills 33

  • 07/01/2017
Brazilian riot police (Getty)
Brazilian riot police (Getty)

At least 33 inmates have been killed in a prison riot in Brazil, possibly in retaliation after members of a powerful drug gang were targeted in the worst prison massacre in decades that left 56 people dead earlier this week.

Several of the dead were decapitated, had their hearts cut out and their bodies burned on a bonfire, the Estado de S.Paulo newspaper reported on Friday, citing security officials.

State officials said the riot in Monte Cristo, Roraima state's largest penitentiary, was brought under control by elite police forces. Violence between rival drug gangs in the prison had ended with 10 dead in October.

At least 93 prisoners have been killed in three separate prison riots this week in Brazil, sparking fears that months of violence between drug gangs who control many of the country's prisons was spiralling out of control.

The top security official in the state of Roraima, Uziel de Castro, blamed Friday's violence on the Sao Paulo-based First Capital Command (PCC) drug gang, which was targeted in Monday's massacre at a prison in Amazonas state.

Brazilian Justice Minister Alexandre Moraes said, however, the killings in Roraima were the result of an internal PCC feud and not connected to Monday's prison massacre in Amazonas. He insisted that Brazil had control of its prisons.

Security experts had predicted more violence in Brazil's gang-controlled prison system in the wake of Monday's massacre.

"It's getting really ugly. This situation is clearly snowballing and there is nothing the government can do to stop the violence in the short term," said Rafael Alcadipani, a public security expert at the Getulio Vargas Foundation think tank in Sao Paulo.

"We are paying the price for 50 years of total neglect of the penitentiary system."

Mr Alcadipani said that Brazil's penitentiary system has been "self-regulated" by the gangs and that mass killings were rare until recent months because of a truce between Brazil's biggest criminal factions.

"But we see that as soon as we have a gang war, these killings are inevitably going to happen because the state has no control over the prisons," he said.