Brazilian police gunned down 13 suspects in two clashes in Sao Paulo state on Monday, saying the actions prevented a new round of attacks similar to a wave of gangster violence last month in which nearly 200 people were killed.
A state security spokeswoman said the criminal organization responsible for the bloodshed in May, the First Command of the Capital, had been preparing new attacks on prisons in Sao Paulo’s industrial satellite towns of Sao Bernardo do Campo and Diadema.
Police discovered their plans by bugging the phones of suspects.
Ten men in Sao Bernardo were killed in a shootout at a gas station on Monday morning after they resisted arrest and fired on police, the spokeswoman said. Police also killed three men at a square in Diadema. Seven suspects, including a woman, were arrested.
All the dead suspects and all those arrested have previous criminal records. Police seized 15 weapons.
Sao Paulo state Gov. Claudio Lembo told a news conference that security forces had managed to frustrate plans by the PCC to repeat the havoc of May.
“They threatened us at the time of the Brazil (soccer World Cup) game last week but we managed to spoil their plans. They tried again this morning, but were defeated in a tough way. They wanted to stage those spectacular actions again, but were defeated,” he said.
Last month PCC gangsters attacked police posts and other targets across Sao Paulo in the worst wave of violence in modern history. The offensive was unleashed in retaliation for the transfer of PCC leaders to a remote prison.
However, police are under scrutiny for their response to the violence. Human rights groups and public prosecutors have complained that innocent people and suspects may have been summarily executed by police or death squads in retaliation for the killings of at least 30 police officers by the PCC.