Brazil moves top prison gang leader to high-security federal facility: source

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Marcos Willians Camacho, the main leader of powerful prison gang First Capital Command, was transferred on Wednesday to a high- security federal penitentiary from a Sao Paulo state prison, a source told Reuters.

Twenty-one other members of the Sao Paulo-based gang, known locally as PCC, were transferred to federal facilities from Sao Paulo state in an operation by federal and state security forces.

The Sao Paulo government confirmed the transfer of PCC members, but declined to say whether Marcola, as Camacho is known, was among them. It did not give other details such as where the prisoners were taken to or how the operation was carried out.

The source, who is close to the operation, told Reuters Marcola was among those transferred.

The operation marks a major step by the new Brazilian government of right-wing Jair Bolsonaro, who was elected last year promising, among other things, to fight rising crime and the prison gangs.

Earlier this year, the decision by CearĂ¡ state authorities to stop separating prison inmates according to the gangs they belong to caused widespread violence in the capital Fortaleza and other cities. The police said the violence was a reprisal ordered by gang leaders from inside the penitentiaries. [nL1N1Z71PR]

Marcola was sentenced to more than 200 years in jail for several crimes including drug trafficking and murder.

Reporting by Eduardo Simoes; Writing by Marcelo Teixeira; editing by Grant McCool

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