At least 10 people, including a suspected drug trafficker, were shot dead in the Sao Paulo metropolitan area in the past 24 hours in a worsening wave of violence in which military police have been targeted, officials said Saturday.
The latest victims were among some 20 people shot in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous city, and surrounding towns.
In the latest incident, a suspected drug trafficker was gunned down by state military police officers Saturday after refusing an order to stop his vehicle on a Sao Paulo highway.
Press reports identified him as a drug baron from Sao Paulo’s Paraisopolis slum, where 600 heavily-armed military police moved in Monday after receiving information that a crime boss there had ordered the killing of military officers.
Six other fatalities occurred in the nearby town of Sao Bernardo do Campo, including three killed in a shootout with state military police.
At least 11 people died in the metropolitan area overnight Thursday into Friday, including a policeman shot by assailants attempting to steal his motorcycle.
In Paraisopolis, authorities said 29 people have been arrested while 15 firearms, 30 kilos (66 pounds) of cocaine and 333 kg of marijuana have been seized.
A statement from the state public security secretariat said a total of 89 military policemen have been killed since the start of this year and 66 people linked to the murders have been arrested so far.
In September, the number of murders in the Sao Paulo metropolitan area jumped to 144, up from 71 during the same month last year.
Thursday, President Dilma Rousseff called Sao Paulo state’s governor Geraldo Alckmin to discuss joint efforts to restore security.
The violence has been linked in press reports to an alleged undeclared war between the military police and a prison drug-trafficking gang known as PCC (First Command of the Capital).
Other anti-crime operations have been launched in other parts of the city.
A police chief meanwhile rejected as “unnecessary” the use of federal forces to help restore order as was done in Rio to wrest control of favelas from drug traffickers.
“The state of Sao Paulo has 100,000 military police personnel, 30,000 civilian police. We are the biggest police force in Latin America,” Roberval Ferreira França was quoted as saying in press reports.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]