Contributor Perspectives

Responding to Gangs in Brazil's Two Largest Cities

Oct 23, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
A policeman fires into a building during a protest over the killing of a bystander in Rio de Janeiro during August 2019.

A policeman fires into a building during a protest over the killing of a bystander in Rio de Janeiro during August 2019.

(IAN CHEIBUB/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Urban gangs are a fixture of Brazil's prisons and favelas (slums). And the operations of such criminal groups in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are illustrative of their competition among themselves and with the state. Two major organizations -- First Capital Command and Red Command -- dominate this hyperviolent contest for control. The core of their power lies in the connections between prison gangs and street gangs. From prison, these groups consolidate control over criminal enterprises, shape strategies, ruthlessly attack competitors and exert internal discipline over their members. The conflicts often reach the streets. Building a state response will require careful analysis and will need to start with intelligence-led policing.​​​​​​​...

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