240 inmates in Brazil transferred over riot fear

Brasília, Jan 17 (IANS) Brazilian authorities transferred 240 inmates from a penitentiary in the state of Alagoas to another prison within the state amid fears of more deadly riots.

The transfer, which occurred after an investigation by state intelligence officials on Monday, is aimed at avoiding conflicts and disturbances, Efe news agency cited sources from the Regional Secretariat for Resocialization and Social Inclusion (Seris) said.

The inmates were moved from the new maximum-security prison in Maceio, Alagoas’ capital, to a penitentiary in the municipality of Girau do Ponciano in an operation involving officers from a special unit of Brazil’s Military Police and two helicopters.

The state government launched an intense police operation this weekend that thus far has resulted in the transfer of 800 prisoners.

Inmates from different criminal gangs have clashed at penitentiaries in the states of Amazonas, Roraima and Rio Grande do Norte since January 1, a series of violent incidents regarded as one of the worst prison crises in Brazil’s history.

In the most recent episode, a total of 26 people were killed on Saturday at the Alcacuz State Penitentiary in the Natal metropolitan region, Rio Grande do Norte, with most of the bodies found severely burned and decapitated.

On Monday, prisoners belonging to the First Capital Command and the Crime Union of Rio Grande do Norte climbed on the roofs of different wards of that same prison brandishing sticks, stones and flags with gang symbols.