Sunday’s deadly prison riot left 56 dead and targeted members of the gang Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC). The São Paulo-based gang is the largest in Brazil and operates across the continent. The Civil Police uncovered a supposed “order” of revenge from regional leaders in the north, where the prison massacre occurred. Authorities picked up the letter circulating among WhatsApp groups. In it, PCC leaders promise to “decimate the FDN from the face of the earth”. The FDN, Família do Norte, is the reigning crime gang in Brazil’s north – coveted border territory for drug trafficking.
The revenge letter calls for gangs to unite against the FDN for breaking the criminal “code of ethics”. The letter reads that the common “goal” of crime gangs is “to fight against the corrupt Brazilian State and not our brothers even if they’re from other organizations”. Gang leaders describe the FDN-led prison massacre as a “declaration of war against drug trafficking in all of Brazil”.
The leaders promise to take the gang wars from the slums to the streets, a threat of public violence that authorities fear most. Back in 2006, the PCC declared an all-out war on the authorities of São Paulo, killing 59 police officers. A total 564 people died in a span ten days, mostly execution-style civilian murders that the police carried out at random in revenge.
The letter also offers its condolences to the victims’ family members. The leaders promise to provide compensation and call on fellow members to donate to the cause. The letter ends with the traditional PCC sign-off: “Peace, justice, and liberty”.
The New Year’s prison massacre was the nation’s largest following Carandiru in 1992, when police killed 111 prisoners in a shooting spree. However, spawning as it did from gang rivalry, this week’s prison riot may mark the start of an already-escalating crime war. On Friday morning, at least 33 prisoners were killed in a penitentiary in Brazil’s northern state of Roraima. While authorities haven’t yet released details, gang involvement seems highly possible.