These ‘Mad Max’ Mega-Heists Are the Future of Brazil’s Bank Robberies

Within the predawn darkness final Monday, a bunch of about 20 closely armed commandos seized control of the downtown monetary block in Araçatuba, a mid-sized Brazilian metropolis within the japanese state of São Paulo. They then proceeded to rob three banks, whereas the surveillance drones that they had deployed saved watch over head.

When the heist was full they accosted a number of bystanders, shot a person who had been filming them on his cellphone, after which bound the hostages they’d taken to the tops of their getaway automobiles in order to dissuade police from interfering with their escape. To additional distract authorities and canopy their retreat, the gang had already planted not less than 20 explosives wired to movement detectors across the metropolis, which then started to detonate.

“Like one thing out of a Hollywood scriptwriter’s wildest creativeness.”

On the fringe of city, the police opened hearth ultimately, killing one feminine hostage and one of many thieves earlier than the others bought away. A minimum of one different individual was killed, and one badly wounded by a bomb blast, the BBC reported. To date, nobody is aware of the destiny of the hostages, nor how a lot cash was taken within the raid.

“It’s surreal and appeared like one thing out of a Hollywood scriptwriter’s wildest creativeness,” Dr. Robert J. Bunker, Director of Analysis and Evaluation for strategic consultancy Futures, LLC, instructed The Every day Beast. “I can’t ever bear in mind one other financial institution heist incident wherever on this planet the place bystanders had been rounded up and tied to the fleeing automobiles of the robbers.”

The Araçatuba financial institution job could have been stunning for its techniques, however it’s hardly an remoted incident. A spate of equally violent financial institution robberies has been happening throughout Brazil.

An incident resembling the assault in Araçatuba occurred in November 2020, within the metropolis of Criciúma. Throughout that heist about 30 armed thieves planted some 70 kilos of explosives and compelled bare hostages to lie within the street, blocking visitors to thwart a police response. Additionally they flung stolen cash into the streets to help their escape, as crowds rushed to collect up the payments.

In that episode, the attackers looted a number of banks and walked off with about 125 million reais ($24 million), in response to a report by InSight Crime, an investigative non-profit with a deal with organized crime within the Americas.

The latest financial institution theft of this type occurred on Monday, Sept. 6, when commandos blasted their way right into a financial institution within the coastal city of Salina das Margaridas, only a few hundred miles northwest of Araçatuba. Within the aftermath, the Brazilian media outlet Metro1 reported that this marked the 38th such bank robbery in 2021, and that assaults of this type have risen by 170 % since final yr.

In its report, InSight Crime wrote, “these assaults have grown past evaluate, seemingly turning into a contest between criminals about who can pull off essentially the most harmful heist, with utter disregard for human life.”

The diploma of brutality is approaching the “Mad Max stage,” mentioned Bunker, “particularly with folks being tied to transferring automobiles.”

Bunker went on, saying that: “These financial institution assaults are refined and recommend excessive ranges of operational competence. The planners have paramilitary and/or navy coaching with an understanding of tactical actions, raids, city channeling, and escape and evasion.”

Since 2015 these sorts of assaults have turn into so frequent that Brazilians actually have a identify for them: Novo Cangaço, which roughly interprets into English as “New Wrestle.”

The identify refers to a “social banditry” motion that flourished in Brazil’s hardscrabble northeast within the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The unique Cangaço sought to battle again towards widespread poverty and inequality. It concerned Robin-Hood like figures who plagued rich landowners, donated to the poor, and pushed the federal government to jumpstart financial reforms.

“The New Cangaço’s modus operandi is comparable” to that of their predecessors, Dr. José de Arimatéia da Cruz instructed The Every day Beast. The techniques may be alike, however the technique between the previous and new incarnations are fairly totally different, in response to Arimatéia da Cruz, who’s initially from Brazil however now teaches Worldwide Relations at Georgia Southern College.“The distinction at this time is that the normal cangaceiros [peasant bandits] had been preventing towards politicians. The Novo Cangaço at this time are attacking banks and are most principally occupied with cash for various functions.”

Additional blurring the strains between the previous and new “wrestle” is the truth that an notorious organized crime group known as the First Capital Command [known as PCC for its acronym in Portuguese] has taken up the Cangaço mantle.

The PCC is chargeable for a number of of the foremost financial institution assaults in Brazil, and has even struck banks over the border in Paraguay. Brazilian police have additionally lengthy identified PCC as “the nation’s largest drug gang.”

John P. Sullivan, a former legislation enforcement officer who now teaches on the College of Southern California, instructed The Every day Beast that the PCC fashioned in São Paulo within the Nineties, has a presence all through Brazil, “and is increasing its worldwide attain.” Bunker estimated the gang to have “over 10,000 members.”

“A city is actually being hit with navy precision by a closely armed commando unit.”

Sullivan, who can also be a Senior Fellow on the Small Wars Journal, known as PCC “an instance of a 3rd era gang resulting from its political dimension, territorial attain, and class.”

These components have, over time, allowed the PCC to parlay its income and affect from typical gang actions like drug operating and extortion into what Sullivan known as “mega robberies” or “city financial institution robbing.”

“Utilizing income from their drug trafficking actions the PCC should purchase weapons on the black market, primarily from the U.S.,” Mike Vigil, the DEA’s former chief of Worldwide Operations, instructed The Every day Beast. “The weapons are shipped already assembled, or as gun components. They’re despatched instantly [to Brazil] or utilizing Paraguay as the principle transshipment nation. These weapons make sure the gangs may have superior firepower over the police in confrontations.”

Though at this time’s Cangaço could lack the social overtones and help to the poor that marked the unique “peasant banditry,” the 2 actions stay united by their underlying causes of inequality and authorities malfeasance.

“Brazil remains to be a horrifically unequal country and nothing has been carried out to alleviate the poverty stage, which provides rise to financially motivated crimes corresponding to financial institution robberies,” Vigil mentioned. “Corruption is one other driver, as a result of the poorer sectors have deep rooted anger that additionally results in felony actions.”

In mild of this new development towards hyper-aggressive heists, it appears honest to ask if teams like PCC and their imitators have flipped the script on the very nature of financial institution jobs. Have they perpetually modified financial institution theft as we knew it?

“What is basically chilling about these financial institution heist sequences is {that a} city is actually being hit with navy precision by a closely armed commando unit which works in with overwhelming power and plunders the native banks—then rapidly fades away with burning automobiles and IEDs masking the escape route,” Bunker mentioned.

After finishing up even a single profitable raid, the group can make investments the money again into its personal arsenal, increase a conflict chest of higher tools and weaponry, which in flip permits them to drag off extra and greater heists. This creates what Bunker known as a “snowball impact.”

“Given the obvious success of securing the human shields to the getaway automobiles—to cease the responding legislation enforcement and navy forces from firing upon them—I worry this new TTP [Tactic, Technique, or Procedure] could rapidly unfold to future mass financial institution heists in Brazil,” Bunker mentioned. “The usage of IEDs strewn throughout the escape route additionally drastically considerations me as a brand new part of those future financial institution robberies.”

The DEA’s Vigil agreed. “The financial institution robberies occurring in Brazil may usher in a brand new, extra violent period involving the usage of navy grade weapons, explosives, and mass hostages,” Vigil mentioned. “The usage of easy handguns can be out of date.” way of=rss | These ‘Mad Max’ Mega-Heists Are the Way forward for Brazil’s Financial institution Robberies


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