The attack on the Brink’s cash carrier in Confresa, Mato Grosso, on Easter Sunday, brought to light a phenomenon called the “New Cangaço”. Named in allusion to the band of Virgulino Ferreira da Silva (1898-1938), Lampião, who invaded and looted villages in the Northeast in the first half of the 1900s, this type of crime, in the opinion of experts, has changed levels in recent times.
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It is no longer just about blowing up bank branches and ATMs in small towns, with almost no police forces. What has emerged is seen as a threat to national security. For experts, the “New Cangaço” is linked to the domination of cities, with criminals who subdue the population and impose submission to the police, who do not have heavy weapons of the same range and in equal quantity, in addition to powerful and armored cars, not to mention drones. These, combined with explosives, are used by bandits to invest against banks, securities companies, and credit unions. The gangs are not looking for just any safe, but those who, on the day and time planned, accumulate a large amount of money.
Experts on the subject say that criminals invest more than R$ 1 million in the infrastructure of attacks, including weapons, locomotion, stays, mapping, and surveillance. It is an action by professionals whose objective is to dissuade the police force. In the crime of Confresa, a municipality of 30,000 inhabitants, it is estimated that the movement and devices used by the approximately 30 men cost around R$ 2 million.
Ricardo Matias Rodrigues, professor of Police Science and Multidimensional Security at the Federal Magistrature School of Paraná, says that the domination of cities is a Brazilian criminal phenomenon. He warns that, if these criminals are not fought efficiently, violent tactics tend to spread not only across Brazil, but to neighboring countries, spreading like a new criminal technology, used for different purposes.
In Brazil, attacks such as the one in Confresa are nothing new and do not depend on the size of the cities. From January 2020 to April of this year (2023), according to a survey based on police news, there were at least 36 similar cases. Most in São Paulo and Bahia.
A study by Rodrigues points out that the first city control carried out in Brazil with these new tactics took place in November 2015 in Campinas (SP), when more than 20 men with rifles, machine guns and explosives controlled the surroundings of a transport company and valuables guard, until then considered a fortress. The electrical power transformer in the region was blown up, and shots were fired at police officers on duty. Highways and access roads were blocked with burning vehicles to allow the gang to escape, which took R$27.9 million. In the following two years (2016 and 2017), says the professor, this type of action was repeated eleven times, raising the loss to R$238 million.
Arthur Pinto de Lemos Junior, secretary of criminal policies at the Public Ministry of São Paulo (MP-SP), says that these groups reinvest in military power. They are not worried about foreign trips, famous restaurants. They reinvest in the crime itself, and it’s not a simple investigation.
People who go to the field to commit crimes are mere executioners, soldiers of criminal groups – he says, for whom there is an organization behind this phenomenon that has not been reached. They are temporary groupings that do not have the sociability of the old bands of cangaceiros. Groups are flexible and rearrange themselves according to region and crime scene.
These networks created to dominate cities are formed inside prisons, where bandits exchange information about their activities. The dynamics of these crimes, out of the norm due to the size of the warlike apparatus, also inhibits the security forces because possible retaliation can result in the deaths of innocent people in the streets. Researchers claim that this type of crime is harmful to the image of public security institutions. But the violent confrontation of these cases only causes insecurity in the population. Securities companies and financial institutions have resorted to the use of technology. One is a guillotine mechanism that shreds banknotes as soon as safes are breached. One of these pieces of equipment would have been used by Brink’s in Confresa, thwarting the bandits’ action.
Source: O Globo