Sunday’s prison riots revealed a number of shady dealings between prison management, gang leaders, and politicians. These bribes facilitated the massacre of rival gang members and the escape of hundreds of prisoners.
Shareholders of Umanizzare, the management company in charge of the prisons in question, reported donations of 212,000 BRL to former state congressman Carlos Souza (PSD-AM) in 2014. Souza himself faces charges for drug trafficking. The ex-congressman has denied all charges and claimed to have legally declared the donations in Electoral Court.
Souza, while mayor of the capital Manaus, spent eight days in jail following investigations of his family’s illegal dealings. Investigations discovered his brother Wallace Souza, also a former Amazonas congressman, ordered the executions of rival gang leaders and sent TV reporters to increase media coverage of the murders.
Just as the judge scheduled the court order, Carlos Souza stepped down from public office, bumping the case back into trial. As of August 2016, the state court closed Souza’s case and the ex-congressman still awaits his sentence. Umanizzare’s company representatives refused to comment on the situation.
In addition, families of prison guards said prisoners paid them bribes to acquire guns. Prisoners offered bribes of up to 1,000 BRL for guards to allow visitors in with firearms. For drugs and cellphones, guards received around 200 BRL. From 2012 to 2014, the prison fired at least 200 guards under suspicion of facilitating escapes.
The state said it was unaware of the dealings, emphasizing that the third-party management company was responsible for prison security. Umanizzare’s company representatives again refused to comment.
State Justice Encarnação das Graças Salgado also received 261,000 BRL directly from the leading drug cartel Família do Norte (FDN), responsible for Sunday’s massacre. The state court suspended Salgado from public office in June and renewed her 6-month suspension in December. The court believes Salgado took bribes in order to deliver lighter sentences to defendents from the FDN crime faction.