Law and order seems out of control in Brazil’s largest city and financial hub. To the usual appalling crime statistics follows a rash of police officers killings. This weekend an off duty military police officer was the twenty second murder victim and the 90th killed in the city so far this year.
On Saturday night, the officer was pulling up to his house with his nine-year old daughter in the passenger seat when he was forcibly removed from his car, reported Folha de Sao Paulo. The killers then shot him at least nine times and fled the scene, leaving his daughter screaming for help in the street.
Neighbors tried to rush the officer — who had been working for the military police for 10 years — to the hospital, but he died on the way. Another military police officer was shot in the head early Saturday morning. He was rushed to the hospital and survived his injuries.
According to police sources the shooting of off duty officers is the ‘modus operandi’ of the drug gangs that dominate most of the slums (favelas) in major Brazilian cities such is the case in Sao Paulo.
Overnight from Thursday to Friday, eleven other people also died in São Paulo's metropolitan area, including a policeman shot by assailants attempting to steal his motorcycle. And since Thursday to Sunday the death toll reached 22 with another eight injured.
The violence has been linked to an alleged undeclared war between the military police and the prison drug-trafficking gang known as PCC (First Command of the Capital), which is considered the strongest and richest in the country.
Military police officers also gunned down a suspected drug trafficker on Saturday after refusing to stop his vehicle on a São Paulo highway.
Reports identified him as the Paraisopolis's drug lord, a favela where 600 heavily-armed military police moved in a week ago after receiving information that orders to kill military officers had been handed out by a crime boss in the slum.
Last week President Dilma Rousseff called Sao Paulo state's governor Geraldo Alckmin to discuss plans to fight the rising crime rate. The dispatch of the 600 heavy armed military police on Operation Saturation in Paraisopolis and the surrounding area is seen as the first coordinated effort to stem violent crime by displaying an overwhelming show of force.
Governor Alckmin said that beginning this week, members of his government would hold additional meetings to try to establish a good working relationship in every possible neighbourhood as he expands the program.
I am certain that the people will see the benefits very quickly, he said in a statement.
Back in 2006 the hub of Brazil’s finance and industry was paralyzed for a week when drug lords from PCC sent their hit-men to the streets killing police officers, civilians and burning buses, vehicles and businesses.
The rampage of police officers killings was followed by an immediate revenge from security forces that also went on a killing vendetta of drug pushers, suspects and their families. Over 500 civilians were killed and 60 members of the security forces died in the week-long battle.