Crime gang closes Rio stores, schools
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) -- Stores and schools across Rio closed
Monday, reportedly on orders from the city's most powerful crime gang
to protest prison conditions of its jailed leader.
Police increased street patrols and no violence was reported, but fear
much of the city.
From trendy Ipanema beach to the city's poor north side, scores of shops
or quickly closed. The Estacio de Sa college let out classes and canceled
scheduled exams becaus e students and teachers stayed home.
Media reports said the shutdown order came from traffickers linked to Luiz
da Costa, Brazil's most notorious drug lord.
His supporters were said to want better jail conditions for da Costa, who
known as Fernandinho Beira-Mar -- Seaside Freddy in Portuguese.
Drug gangs control hundreds of Rio's favelas, or shantytowns, and often
nearby shops and schools to close when a prominent gang member is arrested or
killed. But Monday's shutdown was much more widespread, affecting vast swaths of
Police pleaded for storekeepers not to cave in to the pressure, and some
after shutting down for several hours. Store owners declined to answer questions
from a reporter.
"We cannot tolerate this coercion," Frederico Caldas, a spokesman for the
Janeiro military state police, said in a radio interview.
Earlier this month, da Costa led a bloody uprising in the maximum-security
prison in Rio. Members of his Red Command drug gang took hostages and killed
four leaders of a rival gang before surrendering.
Rio de Janeiro State Security Chief Roberto Aguiar said da Costa intended
the warring criminal factions under his command. He said da Costa had bought the
cooperation of guards and had continued to run drug operations and gang activities
by cell phone from the prison.
After the rebellion, da Costa was transferred to a small top-security cell
in a police
camp, where Aguiar said he was monitored around the clock.
Copyright 2002 The Associated Press.