In the hours following the murder of a Military Police sergeant in Tabatinga (1,106 km from Manaus), police killed at least seven people in a wave of violence. Three were dumped in the trash after torture. They even invaded and vandalized houses, threatened relatives of the dead, adulterated death certificates and imposed the law of silence.
This is the conclusion after five days of interviews that Folha conducted with family members, witnesses, residents, and authorities at the border, a strategic gateway to Brazil for Peruvian cocaine and Colombian skunk.
After the death of Sgt. Michael Flores Cruz, 36, on June 12, an audio distributed via WhatsApp said the following: "All PMs who are off duty, come to the 8th Battalion to hold a meeting here. Our colleague M. Cruz has died". A hunt for the shooter's alleged cronies began, although witnesses believe that the targets also included youths who had no apparent connection with the murder.
The operation even spilled over into Colombia, which has a dry border with Tabatinga. In the Porvenir neighborhood of Leticia, men from Rocam pointed guns at citizens. The case was reported to the National Police and is under investigation.
At least six dead were between 17 and 27 years old and were black or brown (including descendants of indigenous peoples). Peruvian-Colombian citizen, tourism business Antonio Rengifo Baldino, 50, assures that his son, Antonio Rengifo Vargas, 20, a former Peruvian Army recruit, had no criminal record. He accuses the police of tampering with the report to hide the torture.
In parallel, the police also acted to suppress the bloodbath. The corporation spread the rumor that the sergeant died during a robbery, although the police themselves were on alert against attacks by the Comando Vermelho (CV) criminal faction.
The Public Ministry of Amazonas and the Civil Police refused to comment on the deaths.
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon