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article imageBrazilian crime gang threatens terror attacks at soccer World Cup

By Robert Myles     Oct 16, 2013 in World
Rio De Janeiro - A notorious Brazilian crime syndicate issued threats, Tuesday, to disrupt next year’s soccer World Cup finals, hosted by Brazil, by launching terror-style attacks. It also threatened disruption of next year’s Brazilian presidential election.
Just as the European qualifying sections reached their denouement, Tuesday evening, with England, Spain, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Russia all securing first place in qualifying groups ensuring automatic entry to next year’s World Cup finals, Brazilian daily O Estado de Sao Paulo reported that the organized crime gang calling itself Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC) or "First Command of the Capital," had vowed to deliver a “World Cup of Terror”.
The PCC’s threats came as authorities in Brazil firmed up plans to disrupt the PCC’s criminal enterprise by transferring leading imprisoned gang members to different prisons spread across Brazil.
Last week, the same São Paulo based daily reported on a detailed dossier compiled by São Paulo state prosecutors concerning the activities of the PCC gang. The dossier included details of a plot to assassinate São Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin.
The PCC’s latest threats to disrupt the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil, where the host cities include most of Brazil’s most populous cities, were unearthed as a result of police intercepts on phone calls between gang members. Brazilian authorities say the threats included not just disruption within Brazil’s gaols, but also organized attacks on Brazilian streets.
The PCC can trace its origins back to 1993 when eight prisoners, at Taubaté Penitentiary in São Paulo state, got together, coincidentally through their liking for soccer, and formed a prison soccer team named the Capital Command.
Originally, the PCC had a political agenda with aims of fighting oppression within the São Paulo penal system. It sought justice for the deaths of 111 prisoners who were victims of a massacre at the hands of the São Paulo State Military Police on October 2, 1992, when state troopers stormed the now-defunct Casa de Detenção, killing over 100 inmates in the process.
During the last two decades, the PCC has mushroomed to become the largest criminal organization in Brazil, according to a 2012 Brazilian government report. It’s reputed to have 13,000 members, of whom just under half — 6,000 — are currently serving prison terms. The organization is believed to have spread its tentacles all over Brazil, being active in at least 22 of the country’s 27 states, with connections to Paraguay and Bolivia.
The PCC has been accused of being behind a range of criminal activities including prison breaks and riots, drug trafficking and even highway robbery.
In one of the worst episodes of violence, in 2012 the PCC ordered attacks on the police in the São Paulo area. As a result, 106 military police officers lost their lives, with the overall death toll put at more than 300, reports Globalpost. The 2012 attacks were said to be as a result of the breakdown of an informal truce between the PCC and police authorities.
The latest prosecutors’ report, the culmination of three years’ detective work using wiretaps, seized documents and witness testimony, portrays the PCC as a vast organization, with quasi-corporate divisions, under the control of a “board of directors,” responsible for a range of activities from drug trafficking, financial management, even members’ benefits in the shape of legal representation.
Additionally, the prosecutors have called for 175 PCC members still at large to be incarcerated. For 32 leading PCC figures currently detained in prison, prosecution authorities have also demanded tougher prison sentences.
In 2014, the soccer World Cup finals return to Brazil for the first time since 1950. The host nation is clear favorite to lift soccer’s World Cup, ahead of Germany and Argentina, both of whom have already qualified.
The United States maintained their excellent qualification record finishing top of their Concacaf qualifying group and are already headed to Brazil next summer. The US has now successfully qualified for every World Cup finals tournament since 1990.
The 2014 tournament has been dogged by a number of controversies ranging from concerns over stadium completion and safety to political disputes over money spent on the prestige tournament rather than improved working conditions and salaries for state employees. Just yesterday, the streets of Rio de Janeiro again saw violence as striking teachers protested over wages and working conditions.
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