By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Tension remains high in Northeastern Brazil, where a new prison riot was reported on Wednesday (January 18th), leaving one dead and seven injured in a prison in the interior of Rio Grande do Norte.
The violence has also spread outside prison walls, with police stations being attacked and at least fourteen buses being burned throughout the state and in the state capital, Natal.
According to local reports, the street violence was retaliation for the transfer of 220 inmates from the Alcaçuz Penitentiary on Wednesday.
The inmates, believed to be the leaders of the criminal groups which operated in the Alcaçuz Penitentiary, were taken to the Parnamirin state penitentiary so as to separate rival groups. Last week 26 inmates were killed in the prison after a thirteen-hour riot broke out.
“We made the transfer mainly of prisoners who were in Pavilions 1 and 2 because we had news of intense excavation of tunnels and had a very high risk of escapes,” explained Rio Grande do Norte’s Secretary of Public Security, Caio Bezerra, at a press conference on Wednesday.
The destroyed buses brought fear to residents as well as bus company owners in Natal. There are reports that bus companies reduced their fleets normally circulating in the streets, affecting the hundreds of thousands of citizens who depend on public transportation.
To try to decrease the violence in their states, the governors of Amazonas, Roraima and Rio Grande do Norte officially requested the presence of the Brazilian Armed Forces inside their penitentiaries on Wednesday.
The offer to send in troops was made by the federal government on Tuesday (17), after more than one hundred inmates had been killed since the beginning of 2017 in prisons in the North and Northeastern parts of Brazil.
The soldiers will help search prisons for drugs, cellular telephones and weapons, but will not have contact with inmates, according to government officials.