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Brazil | The narcos that challenges Jair Bolsonaro

Three leaders of the Paulista criminal faction First Commando of the Capital (PCC) were beheaded between June and July 2015 inside a Manaus prison. It was only the beginning of knowledge in the Amazon capital as "the damn weekend".

Between the afternoon of Friday 17 July and the morning of Monday 20, there were another 38 murders of CCP killers on the streets of the capital. The order of the massacre started from prison and it is believed that several officers of the Military Police were the perpetrators.

Intercepted cellular messages clarify the goal of action:

"Brother, those guys who wear the PCC shirt here [en Amazonas] they are a pity for the crime (…) they are all h … of p …. We will kill them, that's all. "

The attack against the CCP would have been caused by the decision of the narco-paulista group to continue to "baptize" (recruiting new members) despite the disapproval of the Northern Family, the cartel and ally of the Carioca Comando Vermelho (CV), the archenemy of the First Command. All these signs have been created in the last thirty years in prisons throughout the country and from there continue to make the great leaders work.

Group overview

The message that triggered the bloodbath started on the phone of the trafficker José Roberto Fernandes Barbosa, better known by the nicknames of Z, Doido, Pertubado, Pertuba and Messi, one of the founders of the criminal faction Familia del Norte. His group ally in the national domain of the powerful CV has practically the monopoly of drug trafficking and domination of the prison system of Amazonas and many other states in northeastern Brazil.

Its main activity is the export of Colombian and Peruvian cocaine to Europe. The investigation into the behavior of Brazilian cartels indicates that the massacre of Manaus is at the root of the nearly twenty-year alliance between the CCP and the CV, which was formalized in June 2015.

Since then, different factions have struggled to control the areas of drug trafficking and in particular the borders with Paraguay, Venezuela and Colombia. The war has moved to the state of Ceará, in the north-east, and the attacks are threatening to spread throughout the rest of the country. And it's not just a fight between the cartels. It is above all a confrontation with the state and a direct challenge to the new president, Jair Bolsonaro, elected with the promise of putting an end to the impunity of drug cartels and pacifying the country. The assassins Bolsonaro had assured that he would destroy, provoked his first government crisis.

This scenario of chaos arose in Ceará on the same day as the inauguration of Bolsonaro in Brasilia. On 1 January 2019 attacks on buses, shops and the main access roads to Fortaleza, the state capital began. Since then, the attacks have not stopped; There are already more than 200. The killers blew up two bridges, burned bus transport and school bus, destroyed banks, forced the closure of major stores in dozens of cities, frightened tourists and threw videos in which they had promised total war. All this happened as a reaction to the new secretary of the Penitentiary Administration of Ceará, Luis Mauro Albuquerque, to adopt greater rigor against the entry of mobile phones in prisons and to end the separation of prisoners in different prisons according to the factions to those that belong

To monitor the situation, the government sent 300 National Force agents and another 200 are on their way. But twenty days later, the situation does not seem to have improved much. "There is a climate of panic and people are terrified of going out, it's like I'm a prisoner in your house and even then you're not sure," said a business man from Fortaleza to a newspaper local.

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"This crisis was completely predictable, this is the fourth year in which we had these attacks, we are sitting in a powder magazine and only need someone to light up the wick: poverty, medieval prisons, the war on drugs without any planning and lack of policies for marginalized young people makes Ceará a fertile recruitment field for criminal gangs ", explains Renato Roseno, MP from the left socialist and liberal party (PSOL). "The prison system has not been reformed for 30 years, the statistics tell us that only 5% of prisoners study and recidivism, once they leave, is more than 90%".

The prison population of Brazil is currently 700,489 people, the third largest in the world. Of these, over 34% are in preventive detention and Ceará has the registration of the majority of prisoners without conviction. Until then, in the last decade, the Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo cartel cells have emigrated from ports that allow them an easy journey to Europe. Since then, Ceará has become one of the most violent states in a country that in 2017 has broken its record of murders, almost 64,000; a rate of 30.8 per 100,000 inhabitants (50% more than Mexico).


According to witnesses, these days the cartels are paying 1,000 reales ($ 268) to burn a bus and 5,000 reales ($ 1,338) for attacking a bank or shop with a major fire. Some groups in the favelas also change attacks because of the debt they have for drug use. There are graffiti everywhere in Fortaleza that say "this time we will not stop" and "we will continue to burn until Albuquerque (the secretary responsible for the prisons) will not leave".

All orders of targets to attack, as well as payments, come from prisons where about 29,000 inmates survive in cells designed for no more than 11,000. Overcrowding makes prison control almost impossible. Now, the federal forces sent by the Bolsonaro government are moving from Ceará to the drug lords who are leading the riots. They confiscated more than 400 mobile phones that had entered the prisons clandestinely.

Comando Vermelho (Red Command), from Rio de Janeiro, has lost ground in the last three years, but it is still the most powerful Brazilian criminal organization. It was founded in 1969 by Rogério Lemgruber in Ilha Grande prison, with common prisoners and political militants of the Falange Vermelha who fought against the military dictatorship. Since then, he controls the main favelas of Rio where he has two rivals of the CV himself, the Terceiro Comando Puro (TCP) and Amigos dos Amigos (ADA). Today it has an active force of over 50,000 murderers spread across the country and in Paraguay, as well as very strong alliances with Colombian cartels and cells in Europe.

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The Primeiro Command from Capital (PCC), emerged at the beginning of the 90s in the Taubaté prison, for high-risk inmates, 130 km from São Paulo, better known as "Piranhão".

It is organized in cells like the guerrillas and is governed by a 16-point status that all members must obey and pay, at the same time, a monthly fee of 50 reais ($ 14) for those in prison and 500 reais (134 dollars) for the rest.

His top manager is "Marcola", Marcos Willians Herbas Camacho, who is serving a 44-year sentence. He has about 20,000 killers in the streets and another 6,000 in prisons. It dominates the territory on the border between Brazil and Paraguay, as well as in Bolivia, Colombia and Peru.

The CCP claims to be an organization that not only commits crimes and crimes, but also has a social function to protect the inhabitants of the favelas it controls. It acts with the logic of "Hood Robin", steals the rich to give to the poor. But in most cases, the only thing that leads to the nose is extreme violence and death.

These small armies that for many years maintained a non-aggression pact and divided their territories without dispute now find a common cause: to face Bolsonaro with all its strength and its commitment to the war against drug trafficking.

They promise a fight without quarter. It is the biggest challenge for the far-right president who came to Planalto de Brasilia to impose the "hard hand" on the assassins.

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