With recent firepower, brutal financial institution thieves blitz small-town Brazil By Reuters

By Gabriel Stargardter

UBERABA, Brazil (Reuters) – Shortly earlier than daybreak in late June 2019, a closely armed crew of financial institution robbers rammed a truck into the Brazilian metropolis of Uberaba’s principal Banco do Brasil department. They left the constructing a number of hours later with round $5 million {dollars} in money.

The thieves have been a part of a brand new class of stick-up artists, often known as “novo cangaco” gangs, terrorizing Brazil’s inside. Utilizing assault rifles and explosives to show rural cities into struggle zones, the specialised crews have netted an astonishing $120 million since rising in 2015, suppose tank Alpha Bravo Brasil says.

In a associated article, Reuters tracked how legal guidelines pushed by President Jair Bolsonaro make it simpler for gangsters to acquire assault rifles like these utilized in Uberaba.

Prosecutors attribute a number of the “novo cangaco” raids to the First Capital Command (PCC), Brazil’s strongest gang. The PCC has deep roots round Uberaba, a rich cattle-farming metropolis in Minas Gerais state. The 2019 hit, which concerned over two dozen gangsters, was masterminded by a PCC boss sentenced to just about 150 years in jail for the theft.

    Utilizing court docket paperwork, witness statements, safety footage and interviews, Reuters reconstructed the excessive octane assault for the primary time intimately.


A few week earlier than the raid, the robbers rented an condominium close to the financial institution to surveil their goal. On June 27, round 3.30 a.m., they struck. After smashing via the financial institution’s storage door with a Volkswagen (ETR:) truck, one group made for the protected. One other sprayed the road with machine gun fireplace.

    A couple of hundred yards away, on the 24-hour Drogasil pharmacy, pharmacist Thales Rezende was heating a microwave meal when he heard what appeared like fireworks. Rezende and two colleagues went out to analyze. All three declined to remark for this story.

Exterior, they noticed two automobiles with armed males hanging out the home windows, firing of their route. Terrified, they hid within the storeroom. A hooded assailant entered and advised them at hand over their telephones. They have been then taken into the road, the place some 20 gang members have been taking pictures at transformers and setting off explosives – a typical “novo cangaco” tactic to sow terror throughout small-town Brazil.

The assailants stated they wished them no hurt. “We solely need to kill police,” pharmacy employee Clauber Amaral recalled one saying.

The thieves advised them to run into the financial institution – no humorous enterprise or they’d be shot – the place they cowered as their captors labored to explode the protected. Round 6 a.m., the robbers emerged from the smoky vault with pouches of money, and bundled the three males into the again of ready pick-up vans.

As they sped away, taking pictures at cops and tossing street spikes, the thieves advised the hostages to face behind the pick-up vans and wave their shirts above their heads to push back police gunfire, earlier than releasing them on the outskirts of city.

Within the mayhem one individual was killed – a girl shot via the pinnacle by a stray bullet as she rode with mates behind a taxi taking them house from a membership. Two bystanders survived gunshots to the leg. Town’s council and fireplace station buildings have been left peppered with bullets


Some 50 km (30 miles) away from the middle of Uberaba, within the Sao Basilio farm, Sirlene Rosa awoke round 3.50 a.m. when her telephone started buzzing with information of the heist. She woke her husband, Claudeci Rosa, and advised her son Vinicius, 15, he would not be going to highschool in Uberaba at this time.

    Claudeci wasn’t too involved. Uberaba was far, and the farm he managed was on a mud street, some 5 km from the freeway. He went again to sleep. However as daybreak approached, the messages on Sirelene’s telephone recommended the gang was getting nearer.

    Round 6.20 a.m., their canines began barking. Claudeci heard a car pull up.

    “Open up,” somebody shouted. “We are the Federal Police, and in the event you do not open up, we will smash down the door.”

    Exterior, 10 of the robbers stood with assault rifles in every hand. With cops in scorching pursuit, they have been on the lookout for new hostages – their ticket to freedom. They put the Rosas behind a stolen truck, together with Claudeci’s nephew and his household, in addition to two males from a neighboring farm.

They sped off however did not get far. Round 7 a.m., police intercepted them. A quick firefight ensued.

Contained in the truck, the scenario was fraught. Whereas some assailants requested the hostages for forgiveness, one urged the crew to just accept demise and mow down the cops.

Lupercio Peres, the previous head of Uberaba’s navy police, recalled a “very tense” negotiation.

    “We had hostages being held by closely armed bandits,” he stated. “It was a scene from struggle.”

    Finally, round 11 a.m., the gangsters surrendered and freed the seven hostages, together with a two-year-old little one. Vinicius Rosa and one different declined to remark for this story. Reuters was unable to succeed in the others.

Authorities ultimately recovered simply over 100,000 reais ($19,500) of the roughly 25 million reais stolen that night time. Many of the gang members have been by no means caught. In 2020, the ten who have been apprehended acquired jail sentences totaling over 1,500 years.

($1 = 5.1425 reais)

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