SAO PAULO – A fight between two rival gangs in a prison in Manaus, the capital of Brazil’s Amazonas state, ended on Monday in a massacre, with at least 56 inmates dead.
Authorities initially reported 60 fatalities, but the Public Security Crisis Management Committee of Amazonas state reported that 56 inmates died in the Anisio Jobim Prison Complex (Compaj) and four others were killed in the Prison Unit Puraquequara (UPP), in the rural area of Manaus.
The latest assessment by authorities indicated that a third riot, so far without any deaths, occurred at Manaus Provisional Male Detention Center (CDPM).
The unrest in the Compaj, the most serious of the three that occurred in the last 24 hours in Manaus, began Sunday afternoon, when members of the Family of the North (FND), who maintain control over the prison, started a dispute with members of the First Command of the Capital drug gang, known as the PCC, which operates in Sao Paulo.
The riot left trails of blood in the prison, where dozens of people were brutally murdered and piled up in common areas of the complex, located on the outskirts of Manaus.
The majority of those killed were members of the Sao Paulo-based PCC, to which the FND wanted to send a “message” about its power in the region, Amazonas state Public Security Secretary Sergio Fontes said in a news conference on Monday.
The secretary confirmed that it was “the worst prison massacre in our state’s history.”
Fontes stressed that the fight in the Manaus penitentiary complex is a sign of the “war” that criminal gangs have begun.
Tension has intensified in some Brazilian prisons following last year’s riot between the PCC and Comando Vermelho (Red Command), a criminal gang that controls arms and drug trafficking in Rio de Janeiro.
The dispute between the two gangs left dozens of victims in 2016.