Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wave of Violence in Brazil Claims 133

Five-Day Wave of Violence That Has Killed 133 People in Brazil Shows Strength of Organized Crime

By VIVIAN SEQUERA

SAO PAULO, Brazil May 16, 2006 (AP)— With guns drawn, plainclothes police in a suburb of South America's largest city stopped and frisked motorists in a hunt for gang members who set off a five-day wave of violence that left at least 133 dead by Tuesday.
The crime spree showed the strength of organized crime in the financial and industrial heart of Brazil, and it sent fear rippling through the metropolis of 18 million.
But rising official death toll figures showed police struck back late Monday and early Tuesday, killing 33 suspected gang members in less than 24 hours.
Police in Osasco, 10 miles from the center of Sao Paulo, were targeting motorcyclists with passengers after one of their own was shot and killed by a gunman on the back of a bike, said Officer Vladimir Storel of the Osasco force.
The slain officer was among 40 police and prison guards killed since Friday after the jailed leaders of a notorious gang ordered attacks on city streets. He was the only policeman killed this year in the suburb of 1 million.
"We're only out here because of the attacks," said a stone-faced Storel, surrounded by fellow policemen wielding pistols, shotguns and Uzi submachine guns. They patted down riders and checked IDs against a list of suspected gang members.
In a sign of the tough reaction from police, authorities later announced killing 71 suspected criminals, four bystanders and 18 prison inmates whose bodies were found after officials quelled rebellions in dozens of prisons.

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