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Brazil has one of the largest prison populations in the world. The country's jails are largely controlled by powerful criminal factions with access to drugs, mobile phones and weapons.
And the Police in Brazil have arrested a drug lord accused of ordering a deadly prison riot on New Year's Day.

Picture text : Vieira is believed to be the Red Command leader in the state of Goias.

Nine inmates were killed and 14 injured during the unrest at a prison in the central state of Goias.

Stephan de Souza Vieira, 34, was seized a luxury flat in the state of Rio de Janeiro. He had been on the run from the jail since November.

He is a leader of the Red Command criminal gang with drug interests across Brazil, police say.

Vieira, also known as BH, had been serving a 26-year sentence for drug trafficking when he escaped from the Aparecida de Goiania jail.

Police say that he controlled gang inmates from outside the prison and gave orders for armed members to start the riot.

They attacked a rival gang in a separate wing of the prison and set mattresses on fire.
Image copyright EPA

More than 100 inmates escaped during the riot. Dozens remain at large.

Vieira was arrested in a flat in the seaside resort of Cabo Frio.

He was found with a substantial amount of cash, jewellery, several mobile phones and notebooks with details of drug trafficking transactions.

Brazil prison riots... What's the cause behind them ?

Riots are common in Brazilian prisons, which are notoriously overcrowded.

Brazil has one of the largest prison populations in the world. The country's jails are largely controlled by powerful criminal factions with access to drugs, mobile phones and weapons.

A report by judicial authorities in 2016 described security at the rural penitentiary on the outskirts of the state capital, Goiania, as bad.

According to the report, the prison - part of a larger complex - was built to house 122 inmates, but at one point it held 423.

A few years ago, another rebellion broke out in the Provisional Detention Center (CDP) located in the Penitentiary of Rhinestones, in St. Louis.

According to the General Superintendent of Penitentiary Administration, the riot was caused due to the rivalry between members of the same faction, and left three others stabbed and decapitated.


August 25, 2014 5:56 am

Four inmates killed two beheaded in Brazil jail riot.

Inmates rioting for better facilities in a Brazilian jail killed four fellow prisoners, decapitating two of them, and took two guards hostage, officials said.

Negotiations to resolve the standoff were to resume Monday, with 60 percent of the jail still under inmate control overnight, said Elson Faxina a state judicial spokesman.

Officials have cut water and electricity to the enclosure, Faxina added, saying police officers were guarding the prison to stop the riot from spreading.

“A group of prisoners took six inmates hostage; they killed four and have injured two. They also took hostage two guards,” he explained.

“Their demands are about facilities; it is an older building and they want food brought in.”

But Faxina said there may also be an element of the uprising linked to a fight between drug trafficking factions. “The fact that prisoners took hostages would reinforce that view,” he said.

There were no numbers on how many inmates were involved in the uprising, but local media said around 77 prisoners were transferred because they were threatened by the rioters.

The uprising took place in the Cascavel state correctional center in the southern city of Parana that currently holds 1,140 prisoners, he said.

“A group of prisoners rebelled during breakfast and took two officers hostage. Then they beheaded two prisoners,” a civilian police agent assigned to the jail, Miguel Llanela, told AFP earlier.

According to news portal G1, the two other prisoners were killed when they were thrown off the roof of the buildings.

“Negotiation are likely to be prolonged, and I hope things are resolved verbally without using physical force,” an advocate for prison staff, Jairo Ferreira Filho, told a local radio station.

Meanwhile the prison workers union said in a statement that lack of funding meant there was no regular maintenance of the facility.

“The prisoners say the food is bad, there are no lawyers to work their trials, no basic hygiene materials, few correctional officers,” the statement added.

“All these factors together are a tragedy waiting to happen.”

In Brazil 548,000 people are currently in prison and there is a need for 207,000 more spots to prevent overcrowding, according to Conectas, an organization specializing in inmate rights.

In May, inmates at a maximum-security prison in northeast Brazil took four guards and more than 100 visiting relatives hostage overnight, ultimately releasing them in a deal that saw the transfer of 16 inmates to other prisoners.

Brazilian authorities have promised the population to fix the problem with overcrowded prisons, but yet, nothing has really happened.