by Monte McCoin
On April 10, 2018, a group of gunmen attacked the Santa Izabel Prison Complex near the northern Brazilian city of Belem. The state security service said 21 people were killed in the military-style assault on the facility. One guard was killed; government officials identified prisoners and outside collaborators as comprising the rest of the deaths. In addition to the fatalities, at least four guards were injured in the mass escape attempt, one seriously.
According to a statement from Brazilian officials, “The attempt was supported by an extremely heavily armed group. According to preliminary reports, the prisoners also had weapons inside the prison.” Police investigator Rodrigo Leao said investigators ultimately recovered two assault weapons, three handguns and two other firearms.
The Secretariat of Public Security and Social Defense for the state of Pará said the attack began with “explosions at one of the prison’s walls.” An intense gun battle then ensued, with volleys exchanged from both within and outside the facility.
According to a report from NPR, some prisoners managed to escape but officials did not release the results of a headcount conducted after the chaos ended.
As previously reported in PLN, Brazil has one of the world’s largest prison populations, with the World Prison Population List reporting the nation held 607,000 prisoners as of 2016. [See: PLN, Mar. 2016, p.56].
Sources: www.npr.org, www.nytimes.com, www.aljazeera.com
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