Brazil: Authorities Arrest Man Behind Jail Riot In Goias

Authorities in Brazil have arrested the man behind the riot that left nine inmates dead and more than ten injured in the state of Goias. The deadly prison riot, which happened on New Year’s Day, started when a gang entered the section of another gang.

Police say he is the leader of the gang and the person who ordered the riot to begin. The gang members entered the section controlled by a rival gang and began setting objects on fire.

Police said Stephan de Souza Vieira was arrested at an apartment in Rio de Janeiro. He was serving a 26-year sentence for drug trafficking but escaped from a prison back in November. In the apartment, police found several phones, cash, jewelry and papers with information on drug transactions.

In the riot on New Year’s Day, 106 inmates escaped after breaking a wall. Authorities arrested 29 of them hours later but many remain on the run. Authorities controlled the riot shortly after it began but found that 106 inmates had escaped during the clashes. According to reports, five officers were in charge of the prison at the time. A report from authorities revealed back in 2016 that the section of the prison was built to house 122 inmates but at one point held more than 400.

Overcrowded Prisons and Recent Riots

Overcrowded prisons are a major problem for the country. Reports say thousands of inmates are added to the prisons each month. The majority of the prisons are already over their capacity. The riots usually begin between rival gangs, who fight to regain or keep control of a section.

The prison riot in the state of Goias came exactly a year after a riot in Manaus left more than 50 people dead. During that riot, 126 inmates escaped the prison. Less than a week later, another riot left more than 30 inmates dead. The two prisons were said to be overcrowded at the time.

Reports have highlighted that one of the biggest problems for Brazil’s prison system is that a high percentage of the inmates have never faced a judge. Brazil currently has the fourth highest prison population in the world. Claudio do Prado Amaral, a judge and criminal law professor in Brazil, said back in early 2017 that things will continue as they are over the next few months or get worse because changes are not being made.