Brazil crime gang threatens 'World Cup terror'

SAO PAULO (AFP) - Brazil's powerful PCC crime syndicate has threatened to launch terror-style attacks during the World Cup and presidential polls next year, the daily O Estado de Sao Paulo reported on Tuesday.

The so-called First Command of the Capital, which operates from jails in Sao Paulo state, vowed to unleash a "World Cup of terror" if its chiefs are transferred and isolated in other prisons.

O Estado's report followed its revelation last week of details of an extensive report by Sao Paulo state prosecutors on PCC activities.

"The threats extend to 2014, when they are promising a 'World Cup of terror' and attacks during the presidential elections," it warned.

The World Cup, the first in Brazil since 1950, kicks off in Sao Paulo next June. There was no immediate comment on the latest report from Sao Paulo authorities.

The commander of Sao Paulo state's military police, Colonel Benedito Meira, was quoted as saying that he had ordered his men "to show increased vigilance".

The prosecutors' report describes the PCC as a huge organisation with divisions to coordinate the drug trade, commit crimes, provide legal defence to its members and manage its finances.

The syndicate, which has more than 11,000 members, including 6,000 behind bars, also operates in Paraguay and Bolivia, it added.

The prosecutors called for 175 PCC members who are currently free to be incarcerated.

They are also demanding tougher jail conditions for 32 others currently held, including the entire leadership, in Presidente Venceslau in Sao Paulo state.

The paper said the gang relies on a "board of directors" made up of criminals not in detention to run day-to-day operations.

The report grew out of more than three years of investigation and was based on documents, witnesses' testimonies and wiretaps.

The PCC was blamed for a wave of violence that left more than 300 people dead, including some police officers, late last year.

In 2006, the gang also went on a rampage in this huge metropolis, attacking police stations and public buildings.

According to human rights groups, the PCC assault, which triggered a wave of police reprisal attacks in which scores of suspects were gunned down, came in large part in response to a series of organized shakedowns by police.

The PCC was set up in 1993 by jailed narco-traffickers in Sao Paulo.

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