At least 52 dead in Brazil prison riot; 16 decapitated

Brazil prison riot kills 52 inmates, with 16 decapitated in gang war - Daily Star

A riot in the Centro de Recuperação Regional de Altamira ("Altamira Regional Recovery Center") in southwestern Pará, which broke out on Monday morning, July 29th, presumably as a result of a confrontation between rival criminal factions, left at least 52 detainees dead.

Gang members from one prison block invaded another part of Altamira jail in Pará state, local media reported. In the photos released online, you can see inmates running for safety on the roof of the prison.

Sixteen of the dead were decapitated in the hours-long clashes that ended around midday (1500 GMT), an official from the Para state government's penitentiary department told AFP.

In January 2017, almost 150 prisoners died during three weeks of violence in several Brazilian prisons as local gangs backed by Brazil's two largest drug factions attacked one another.

It has also been reported that two prison guards were held hostage during the riots, but were safely released following the negotiations.

Authorities have not found any firearms following the riot, only makeshift knives.

In May of this year, some 55 inmates died at prisons in Amazonas state.

Brazil has the world's third-largest prison population, with 726,712 inmates as of June 2016, according to official statistics.

In the violent northeast, prison gangs have grown powerful moving cocaine from Colombia and Peru along the Amazon's waterways to the Atlantic coast, where it heads to Africa and Europe. With over 700,000 people incarcerated, widespread violence throughout the overcrowded jails is becoming commonplace among inmates and rival gangs.

The prison in Altamira is built to house only 200 inmates, but was holding 311 at the time of the fighting.

Originally formed to protect inmates and advocate for better conditions, Brazil's prison gangs are now involved in bank heists, drug trafficking and gun-running, with jailed kingpins presiding over their empires via smuggled cellphones.

According to BBC, reports in Brazil said that many inmates died of suffocation when the prison was set on fire. The violence lasted several weeks, spreading to various states.

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