Members of Brazilian Criminal Faction Escape from Prison in Paraguay

At least 75 prisoners escaped, many of them PCC affiliated, from a prison in Pedro Juan Caballero, on the border with Mato Grosso do Sul

Artur Rodrigues Thiago Amâncio
São Paulo

Seventy-five prisoners, mostly members of the PCC (First Command of the Capital) organized criminal group, fled at dawn on Sunday (19) from a prison in Pedro Juan Caballero, Paraguay.

The Brazilian faction has a strong presence in the country due to drug trafficking.

According to the Paraguayan press, a tunnel connected to the pavilions holding the faction's prisoners, and this led to the area outside of the prison.

The Paraguayan government, however, thinks that some criminals may have fled earlier without using the tunnel. The government already arrested some of those responsible for the escape.

"A tunnel was found, and we believe that this tunnel was a misleading resource to legitimize or to make up for the release of prisoners. There is complicity with people inside the prison, and this is a phenomenon that occurs in all penitentiaries," said the country's interior minister, Euclides Acevedo, in a note published on the government website.

According to him, the country is on high alert, since the prisoners are very dangerous.

Sacks of sand were found in a prison cell after members of the PCC escaped - Reprodução

The government stated that 40 prisoners are Brazilian and the rest Paraguayan. The minister said that some detainees possibly fled to Brazil.

In Brazil, the government of Mato Grosso do Sul reported that it sent about 200 police officers to strengthen the security of the border with Paraguay and try to contain the entry of criminals.

The fight against the PCC has become a political issue and disputed by the Jair Bolsonaro government and state administrations.

The prison escape brought the issue up again, and it will be a test for the government that has been publicizing public safety as one of its assets.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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