A police operation today arrested 42 suspected members of a criminal organization thought to be responsible for 60% of the homicides this year in the João Pessoa metropolitan area, in Paraiba. At first, police reported the arrest of 44 persons, but the number was corrected after an 11 a.m; press conference.
Among those detained in the joint action by the state military and judicial police and the federal highway patrol was a state military police sergeant and candidate for the city council of Bayeux.
Police official Cristiano Jacques said that Arnóbio Gomes Fernandes, a candidate for the PSL — Social Liberal — provided protection to a criminal enterprise that markets drugs, promotes prison riots, commits execution-style murders and burns municipal buses.
Of the 42 warrants executed, 17 named persons currently in jail, who command the criminal scheme from their cells. Jacques said these prisoners would be transferred to federal prisons.
The investigations discovered that violent executions are the group’s calling card. Police say that rival drug traffickers who invade the group’s territory are executed. Some of these execution were witnessed by gang members using their cell phones.
Nextel handsets with accounts registered in Florida are said to be a common tool of the well-equipped militia and/or criminal organization — the trend is deftly dramatized in the sequel to the film Elite Squad (2007) …
The suspects arrested this morning were taken to police headquarters in João Pessoa. … Police official Anne Karoline said investigations … are ongoing in João Pessoa, Bayeux e Santa Rita.
Dubbed Operation Skeleton, the action will serve 50 temporary arrest warrants issued by the municipal court of Santa Rita.
Karoline says the investigations began five months ago and were initially conducted by the special operations group of the state judicial police. “At first we thought we were looking at unrelated crimes, but we discovered that they were related and that they were carried out by a criminal conspiracy,”she said. Some 340 police agents took part in the action..
… Police said the group was structured like a successful business enterprise, with command and control and a well defined division of labor. There were leaders, distributors, soldiers and retail vendors …
João Pessoa suffers a Medellín-like homicide rate of 59.4 murders annually per 100,000 population. It ranks 29th on the scale of the 50 most violent cities in the world and third in the ranking of Brazilian state capitals. Source: ExpressoPB.
Cebela’s violence map has detailed statistics on the murder rates among youth and women. If the city, with a population of 700,000 in 2010, reports 581 murders that year, then this new item suggests that this criminal organization was responsible for something like 350 murders.
Can that be correct?