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Security official: Mexican cartels inspired horrors in Brazilian prison carnage

January 31, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Security official: Mexican cartels inspired horrors in Brazilian prison carnage

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The 30 dismembered heads, which occurred as a result of a gang altercation at a Brazilian prison this month, were inspired by the methods used by Mexican cartels and represents a change in the country’s drug violence, a senior security official alleges.

Footage showed members of the North Family gang, armed with machetes, throwing the heads of rivals onto the blood-soaked yard of the Compaj prison in Amazonas during the violence that erupted on January 1st.

Even Brazilians, who are used to some of the world’s highest crime rates, were horrified by the ruthlessness. The incident sparked a spate of gang-related prison carnages that have murdered at least 130 people this month alone.

Amazonas State Security Secretary Sergio Fontes, a former federal police chief with 20 years of experience in Brazil, told Reuters that drug gangs are following in the footsteps of Mexican organizations that advertise their brutal executions on the Internet.

“When it comes to cutting off heads, the Mexicans started before our gangs adopted that strategy of mixing terror with crime,” Fontes said. “Our violence is imitating theirs.”

Over half of the 56 inmates slaughtered by the North Family, Brazil’s third-largest criminal organization, in Compaj were dismembered.

A few days after the incident at the Brazilian prison, a favela dance song praising the beheadings went viral on social media, reminiscent of Mexican folk songs that describe tales of drug dealers and their exploits known as “narcocorridos.”

Prisoners slaughtered rival gang members and set fire during the outbreak of violence at Brazil’s Alcacuz

Brazil’s overcrowded jails are now the battleground in a swiftly escalating war between the nation’s two biggest drug groups, the Sao Paulo-based First Capital Command (PCC) and the Red Command from Rio de Janeiro, which has partnered with the North Family.

In the early 2000s, Mexico’s once-leading Sinaloa cartel started to broadcast its violence, with acts that were typically done in secret, with YouTube videos of masked members torturing and decapitating rivals with machetes.

In Amazonas, the prison massacre, described by a judge who witnessed the disturbance as a “Dantesque scene,” set off a wave of brutal killings across prisons in the north.

Crime researchers in Brazil say beheadings are not new in prisons, but they have never been to this degree.

“The magnitude of the violence reflects the worsening of this turf war between drug gangs,” Victor Neiva said, a researcher at the Federal University of Minas Gerais.

There is no evidence of economic links between Mexican cartels, which smuggle cocaine into the U.S. and Brazilian groups that sell domestically as well as transport drugs to Europe.

Nonetheless, Fontes indicated that authorities need to act now to stop local gangs from growing in power and dominating swathes of territory, as exhibited in Mexico.

“That risk exists if we don’t pay attention to the signs. As we didn’t before these killings,” he continued.

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