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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The governor of Amazonas, José Melo, announced on Tuesday that it was removing the temporary director of Manaus’ Anísio Jobim Penitentiary Complex (COMPAJ), José Carvalho da Silva, from office for an indefinite period.

Brazil, Federal security agents enter the COMPAJ prison system in Manaus, Amazonas,
Federal security agents enter the COMPAJ prison system in Manaus, Amazonas, photo by Bruno Zanardo/SECOM.

The move comes after news that two weeks before the massive prison riot that left 56 dead, inmates had told the state court that directors were receiving money to allow weapons, drugs and cellular phones to be smuggled into the prison.

“They are corrupt and receive money from the criminal faction, facilitating the entry of drugs and cell phones and [also] the last escape in COMPAJ,” inmate Alcinei Silveira is said to have written about the directors of the prison unit, reports Agencia Brasil.

According to the Amazonas Public Defender’s Office, nineteen days before the January 2nd slaughter, inmates Alcinei Gomes da Silveira and Gezildo Nunes da Silva handed over to the office two handwritten letters claiming to be receiving death threats and telling court officials about the link between prison directors and gang inmates.

News reports state that one of the officers tried to transfer Silva out of the prison, but due to the Christmas recess the two inmates remained at COMPAJ. Both Silveira and Silva were killed in the rebellion.

On Tuesday the first one hundred agents of the National Public Security Force arrived in Manaus to help state police forces to try to contain the crisis in the Amazonian prison system.

According to Justice Minister Alexandre de Moraes, the federal agents will be sweeping the premises for weapons and cell phones, securing the perimeter of penitentiaries and rendering support in roads blockades, but will not be enforcing security inside prison gates.

State officials also asked the Ministry of Justice to send electronic anklets, body scanners, cell phone signal blockers and resources to enlarge and refurbish the Medical Legal Institute and the Criminalistics Institute.

In addition to Amazonas state, six other states will receive federal agents to help them face tension in their prison systems, including Roraima, where 33 inmates were killed by fellow prisoners on January 6th.

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