SAO PAULO, Brazil – At least 26 prisoners were killed Saturday in Brazil’s fifth deadly prison riot since January 1.
The latest riot happened at the Alcaçuz prison, the largest prison in the state of Rio Grande do Norte in the northeast, according to the state government.
Police and special military police forces were deployed to the prison, government spokeswoman Juliska Azevedo said.
The riot lasted more than 14 hours, finally ending around 7:30 a.m. Sunday, the state-run news outlet Agencia Brasil said.
It broke out after a fight between rival gangs PCC (First Capital Command) and Sindicato do Crime do RN (Crime Union of Rio Grande do Norte).
Six inmates responsible for the riot have been identified and are being moved to other prisons, authorities said during a news conference on Sunday.
The São Paulo-based PCC was involved in the other fatal riots this year, authorities said.
This year’s wave of prison violence started January 1 when at least 56 prisoners were killed at the Anisio Jobim Penitentiary Complex in Manaus.
Victims were decapitated and their bodies thrown over the prison wall. Sergio Fontes, the public safety secretary for the state of Amazonas, said the riot started over control of the drug trade in prison.
As that riot was being quelled, four inmates were killed January 2 at the Prison Unit of Puraquequara in Manaus.
In the neighboring Roraima state, 33 people were killed January 6 at the Agricultural Penitentiary of Monte Cristo.
And on January 8, four prisoners were killed in the Desembargador Raimundo Vidal Pessoa public jail in Manaus.
Prisoners escaped from other prison units during the unrest.
Jose Carvalho da Silva, the interim director of the Anísio Jobim Penitentiary Complex, was removed from office Tuesday after the deadly riot and corruption allegations by two inmates.
Brazilian President Michel Temer and Justice Minister Alexandre de Moraes recently announced the creation of a new national plan to improve the nation’s prison system.
Brazil has the fourth-largest prison population in the world, with more than 622,000 people behind bars, according to its justice ministry.
Many prisons are badly overcrowded. The Alcaçuz prison has the capacity for 620 inmates but currently houses 1,083.