Brazilian police are looking into the possible existence of links between the ruling Workers Party of President Lula da Silva and a prison-based gang network, First Command of the Capital, (PCC) which has been responsible for a wave of violence in the country’s main industrial and financial hub, the city of São Paulo.
Daily newspaper Folha de S. Paulo said the probe of possible links between the ruling Workers Party (PT) and the jail gang was being carried out by that city’s police force and was based on court-authorized wiretaps in which allegedly PCC members can be heard talking about attacking non-PT politicians.
The recordings were made on May 12, the day when PCC launched its first wave of attacks in São Paulo, which according to official figures claimed the lives of 133 people, 41 policemen and jail guards, 79 alleged criminals, four civilians and nine prison inmates.
The leaders of PCC who run the organization’s narcotics and extortion operations from inside the São Paulo prison system, launched a second wave of attacks in July with eight killed and six suspects shot in clashes with police forces.
"Priority: blue (prison guards), higher than blue, politicians, any of them except for PT, you get it, man?" an alleged PCC member identified as "Magrelo" is heard on a recording telling another gang suspected "Moringa," reports the newspaper.
Further on "Magrelo" argues that the main target must be politicians from the opposition Brazilian Social Democracy Party, PSDB, which rules in the state and city of São Paulo.
"Members, officials and leaders of PSDB must be targeted" "Magrelo" orders other alleged gang members.
Following the interceptions São Paulo police reinforced security for politicians during the May wave of violence, but despite efforts a PSDB councilman in a town west of São Paulo City was gunned down on May 13.
PSDB is the party supporting Geraldo Alckmin, former governor of São Paulo during five years who stepped down March 31 to run in October’s presidential election.
Since May when the PCC began its attacks in São Paulo, PSDB leaders, including Alckmin, have claimed that the organized crime offensive had the political aim of discrediting his governorship of the state in the run-up to the presidential vote.
Press reports at the time of the first wave of attacks indicated they were launched in retaliation for the transfer of 765 of the gang’s members – including leader Marcos Williams Herbas Camacho, "Marcola" – from São Paulo to a maximum-security prison in the neighboring state of Paraná.
São Paulo police department of organized crime plans to question alleged PCC members over the next few days, while the PSDB has said that it will not use the wiretaps for political ends during the current electoral campaign.
According to the head of PSDB in São Paulo, Sidney Beraldo, PCC has "sympathy" for PT because that party’s politicians have always been at the vanguard of the struggle to defend human rights.
President Lula reiterated his offer to send the Federal Police and the armed forces to São Paulo to help control the violence, but he added that "the control of security in São Paulo is (in the hands of) São Paulo state".
Alckmin and São Paulo state security secretary Saulo de Castro Abreu have insinuated that PCC attacks were tacitly backed by Lula’s PT.
The PSDB said "the PCC effect could have been a factor" in explaining Alckmin’s recent drop in polls.
Another presidential hopeful Senator Heloísa Helena Lima, running third in the polls said that Lula should have left "demagoguery" and sit down with the São Paulo state government and draft "an emergency public security plan."
Residents of São Paulo continue to be held hostage by the gang, "while the president and the governor discuss who is responsible," said Helena.