Brazil saw two consecutive nights of violence when armed gangsters took hostages and stormed banks in separate incidents in the cities of Cametá and Criciúma.
According to initial reports, an armed gang invaded the streets of Cametá in the north of the country in the early hours of Wednesday morning to rob a bank. It is unclear whether the situation will continue.
According to reports, several hostages have been taken and the mayor of the city, Waldoli Valenti, said on Facebook that a young man had died.
The night attack in Cametá seems almost identical to the storming of a bank in the southern city of Criciúma in the early hours of Tuesday morning, according to Brazilian broadcaster Globo News.
The media reported that the gang that attacked Cametá carried high-caliber weapons and explosives and captured hostages in bars before using them as shields to move through the city’s streets, like the attackers in Criciúma.
However, there is currently no evidence of a link between the two incidents.
According to the BBC, the attacks are the latest in a series of major bank robberies in Brazil over the past five years.
According to official figures quoted by the station, there have been 14 bank robberies in the state of São Paulo so far this year.
The most recent robberies resemble the wave of robberies in the late 1990s known as the “New Cangaço”. The Cangaço were gangs of bandits who roamed the northeastern hinterland of Brazil in the 1920s and 1930s under the leadership of a legendary mugger named Lampião, according to the station.
Security expert Guaracy Mingardi told the BBC Brasil that these new large-scale bank robberies began five years ago and targeted banks and companies that store and transport valuables, preferably in small and medium-sized towns.
The Folha de São Paulo newspaper also said that these attacks are becoming increasingly common in Brazil, pointing to recent robberies in cities such as Araraquara, Botucatu and Ourinhos.
What happened in Cametá?
A gang of armed men reportedly stormed Cametá, a city in the state of Para, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, robbing a bank and taking hostages.
Shots were heard in video footage published in social media, with one clip showing a large group of hostages being led through the streets.
Security forces have been dispatched to the scene, although it is currently unclear which bank in Cametá is being targeted or whether the incident is still ongoing.
The governor of the state of Para, Helder Barbalho, said on Twitter in the early hours of the morning: “I am already in contact with the State Public Security Summit following the measures taken in the municipality of Cametá in this episode.
Já estou em contato com a cúpula da segurança pública do Estado acompanhando as providências que estão sendo tomadas neste episódio, no município de Cametá.
– Helder Barbalho (@helderbarbalho) December 2, 2020
Maize around vídeo desesperador de Cametá, no Pará, onde as informações de moradores postadas em redes sociais dão conta de um assalto das proporções do que aconteceu em Criciúma ontem. Discreetly, the assaltantes fortemente armados fizeram moradores de reféns, que são usados como escudos. pic.twitter.com/Y3HPnNcDJq
– De Lucca (@delucca) December 2, 2020
Parece que está rolando outro assalto com armas de grosso calibre, desta vez em Cametá, no interior do Pará. pic.twitter.com/ToaRiRganA
– De Lucca (@delucca) December 2, 2020
“We will do our best to ensure that peace is restored as soon as possible and that the criminals are arrested”.
The mayor of the city, Waldoli Valenti, said on Facebook that a young man had died.
He wrote: “In these difficult times that our city is going through. I ask God to protect you all. Garrisons of the tactical forces of the military police are already in Camet á and we trust that the security forces of our state will restore peace and security in Camet á. Apart from bringing all those involved in this sad incident to justice.
“Our town has always been peaceful, and I ask everyone to stay in their homes.
We also pray to God to comfort the family of the young man who lost his life in a cowardly way”.
What happened in Criciúma?
A group of about 30 bandits attacked a branch of Banco Do Brasil in the center of Criciúma on Tuesday around midnight local time. According to Globo News, the attack lasted about an hour and 45 minutes.
The station reported that six employees of the Traffic and Transportation Department (DTT) were taken hostage during the attack.
The hostages could be seen on film footage broadcast by Globo News, sitting tied up and shirtless in the pedestrian zone a few meters from the bank branch, presumably to hinder the police action. They were reportedly released unharmed a few hours later.
The attackers blocked the access road to the city, even with burning vehicles, to prevent police reinforcements from responding quickly, firing hundreds of shots and using explosives, the Santa Catarina military police said on Twitter.
December 1: After a mega-robbery in the Brazilian city of Criciúma, people accept money scattered on the ground. Despite the tragedy, Christmas will be better for many people in need. The gang looks specialized and was armed with Bazooka.pic.twitter.com/4UTiavPir7.
– Tent Florizel (@cellFlorizel) December 1, 2020
Assaltantes estão saíndo de Criciúma nesse exato momento pic.twitter.com/GGF8WiqGjv
– Raphael Victor (@RaphaelVictorRV) December 1, 2020
OCORRÊNCIA EM CRICIÚMA
Por volta the 23h de segunda, 30, diversos criminosos fazendo uso de armamento pesado, explosivos e coletes balísticos, utilizando reféns, efetuaram um assalto em uma agência bancária de Criciúma.
Siga a linha pic.twitter.com/ZS5WUEMd2O
– POLÍCIA MILITAR DE SANTA CATARINA (@pmscoficial) December 1, 2020
The police also said this: “The attackers exchanged shots with the military police in the central area and in the 9th Military Police Battalion (BPM).
Military Police Battalion (BPM). “The criminal action resulted in the identification of two targets, one of whom was a vigilante and the other a military police officer who was shot in the abdomen,” they said, adding that the officer was in surgery and in serious condition.
In a series of updates, they wrote: “The military police have been conducting a large organized operation since dawn in order to be able to react quickly when criminals are searched” and “The vehicles used for the crime were found and had bloodstains on them, indicating that the criminals were shot by the police. Four people have already been arrested”.
The police then announced that the shot soldier’s name is Jeferson Luiz Esmeraldino, 32, and he remains under observation in the intensive care unit.
It is not clear how much money the attackers took with them, but videos posted in social media seemed to show that some of their loot had fled to the street when residents hurried to collect some of the bills.