Brazil announced on Tuesday it will create a new police agency, boost surveillance operations and mull transferring inmates to more secure prisons as it battles killings of police in surging violence blamed on a jail-based drug gang.
At least 50 people have been killed over the past eight days in São Paulo, many of them state military police. Ninety policemen were killed since the beginning of the year The gang linked to the violence is known as the First Command of the Capital, or PCC.
The violence is concentrated in the city of Sao Paulo, the country's financial and industrial hub, where drug lords control the many favelas (slums) that surround Brazil's main cities.
A new agency bringing together state and federal police resources will be set up to spearhead the fight against organized crime, São Paulo state governor Geraldo Alckmin said.
Other measures include the possible transfer of criminals responsible for the murders of military police and prison guards to federal penitentiaries, the governor said.
Also planned are heightened police surveillance of highways, airports and sea ports and stepped-up action against crack trafficking, including through video-monitoring.
Federal Justice Minister José Eduardo Cardozo, who met with the governor, said federal and state intelligence agencies would step up efforts to combat money laundering by criminal groups.
"The financial asphyxiation (of these groups) is fundamental," he said.
Press reports said Cardozo offered to make 300 cells available in state-of-the-art, well-protected federal jails to transfer dangerous criminals in Sao Paulo state jails.
The PCC has been linked to some of the 90 murders of state military officers and three prison guards across the state this year.
The PCC was formed in 1993 by eight prisoners serving time at a state maximum security prison in Taubaté, 140 kilometers northeast of São Paulo.
Documents seized in a police sweep last week included a list with names, addresses and physical descriptions of more than 40 military police officers. Also found was a letter with orders to kill two police officers for every "cowardly execution" of a PCC member.
São Paulo state public security secretary Antonio Ferreira Pinto has dismissed reports that the PCC has 1.343 members spread out in 123 of São Paulo state's 645 cities.
"The faction is much smaller," he told the daily Folha de S. Paulo last month. "There aren't even 30 or 40 individuals who are imprisoned for a long time and engage in trafficking. We have choked off this traffic with big arrests."
Overnight, nine people were killed, according to the state public security secretariat.