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São Paulo | New Sheriff in Town

Source: Debates Culturais

As deadly violence spikes in São Paulo and the surrounding metro area, Governor Alckmin vows to cooperate with federal law enforcement and replaces his public safety secretary.

SSP — the São Paulo state secretary of public safety released an account of violent incidents in São Paulo during October. The study shows that the number of intentional homicides more than doubled in relation to the same period last year.

According to the  SSP, this October reported 176 victims compared with 82 in October 2011. The overall number of murder victims thus far in 2012 — 1,157 — already surpasses the number for all of 2012 — 1,069.

According to a military police investigation, one factor being blamed for the spike in violence is the heating up of a conflict between the state military police and the PCC criminal faction, a criminal enterprise run out of state prisons on contraband cell phones. The state never did get those signal blockers to work right. .

Recently, for example, a death list was discovered with the private details of more than 100 police agents.

Military police internal affairs is investigating whether troopers sold a secret contact list containing some 100 military police, with names and addresses, to members of the PCC. This “urgent call list” contains emergency contact information for state police troopers. Investigations have established that the data was leaked from a company of the 32nd Battalion in  Itaquaquecetuba, in the greater São Paulo metro area.

A Cidade notes foreign coverage of the issue.

SÃO PAULO, SP, 22 de novembro | Folhapress  — The replacement of the São Paulo state public safety secretary was widely reported in the international press.

Yesterday, governor Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB) announced that Antonio Ferreira Pinto, public safety secretary for the past six years, had resigned his post. Fernando Grella Vieira, a former prosecutor, was tapped to replace him.

Ferreira Pinto is an ex-officer in the state military police and his CV boasts of having busted 317 bad cops during his six-year tenure in the post, during which he reorganized the internal affairs division of the military police so that it reported directly to his office.

This 317 seems like a pretty modest harvest given the hard rain of police corruption, however. Aside from working the state borders and entry points for contraband — drugs, weapons, Paraguayan Marlboros — expect cases of government and judicial corruption in the same ecosystem of political power.

Vieira is a two-term former state’s attorney. He is not yet Wikipedia-worthy, so that is all the internaut can know. Kotscho has the following to say:

The personality of Fernando Grella Vieira, who headed the Public Ministry from  2008 to 2012, is diametrically opposed to that of Ferreira Pinto, who decided to confront the PCC, Brazil’s largest criminal organization, by “putting ROTA out on the streets” with a license to kill, recalling the days when Paulo Maluf was governor in the early 1980s..

Unlike his predecessor, Vieira is a negotiator and maintains good relations with the federal minister of justice, José Eduardo Cardozo. He plans to work hand in hand with the federal government, especially in the area of intelligence work, which has been  abandoned of late.

The Folha continues …

As the  Folha de S.Paulo reports today, however, Ferreira Pinto already knew he would be fired on November 12, after receiving a call from the governor’s chief of staff, inviting him to a meeting at the governor’s mansion that afternoon.

Here is how some of the leading newspapers in the world reported the story:

New York Times (EUA)

The Times reported the departure of the secretary and cited the number of murders and “executions” of military police troopers, noting that “more than 90” have been murdered this year.

The Times also cited the increase in the crime rate compared with 2011 and the return of a powerful criminal organization, the PCC. Ferreira Pinto minimizes the influence of this group, which operates for the most part from within state prisons.

The Times calls Fernando Grella, the new secretary, a “prominent prosecutor.”

The Miami Herald

The Herald also ties the dismissal of Ferreira to rising crime statistics, beginning with a significant spike in September, during which 144 persons were murdered, according to the Web site of the SSP. On Wednesday, state officials said 150 murders had taken place in October, an increase of 92% in comparison with October 2011.

Normally these stats are published at year’s end, but the state wanted to give the new man a fresh start and measurable goals.

According to the Herald, “Police say that the deaths of police agents are being ordered by jailed members of a criminal organization avenging law enforcement efforts against the drgu trade. Officials also say that recent deaths may be related to the drug trade or gang wars.”

The Herald noted that one PCC figure has already been transferred to a federal prison in northern Brazil and that further transfers should take place this month.

BBC

The BBC said that the firing of  Ferreira Pinto took place amid a “dramatic increase” of violence in São Paulo in 2012. “Nearly 260 were killed in the last 40 days, and 95 police have lost their lives so far this year, compared with 47 in all of 2011”.

The BBC cited experts who see the increase in criminality as “evidence of an undeclared war between elite police units and a criminal gang.”

Violence spiked in May, when a police special forces unit called Rota killed six men. Since then, the gang known as the PCC seems to be engaged in revenge killings.

According to the BBC, Ferreira Pinto was under pressure on account of the rising murder rate, but that “his attempts to combat violence, including a state-federal agreement to share criminal intelligence, bore no fruit.” .

Clarín

The Argentine daily said that the secretary had been vastly undermined by his inability to counter the crime wave in the metropolitian area.”

Clarin recalled a sharp, public exchange last month between Ferreira Pinto and the federal minister of justice,  José Eduardo Cardozo. The feds had reportedly proposed initiatives to aid the São Paulo state authorities, but Ferreira Pinto denied the existence of this offer and called the minister’s statements “purely political.” These comments hastened his dismissal.

From what I read, the problem of police corruption will be addressed with the participation of federal police and the National Public Safety Force — a Força Nacional ….

Clarin said that Governor Alckmin, who will stand for reelection in 2014 and therefore “wants to recover the damage to his public image due to the war between the narcotraffic and police.” “If he cannot resolve the situation, his reelection could be at risk.

This should be a legitimate concern, as the PT candidate for mayor of São Paulo just handed perennial PSDB candidate José Serra his hat.