Mon Jan 9, 2017 7:47AM
Brazil’s riot police prepare to enter the Desembargador Raimundo Vidal Pessoa prison during a riot there, in the city of Manaus, January 8, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
Brazil’s riot police prepare to enter the Desembargador Raimundo Vidal Pessoa prison during a riot there, in the city of Manaus, January 8, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

At least four inmates have been killed in the latest prison riot in Brazil, bringing the overall number of fatalities in such riots over the past week to 100.

The riot took place at the Desembargador Raimundo Vidal Pessoa jail in the center of the Amazonian city of Manaus on Sunday, according to security officials.

The officials said the prisoners were killed under unclear circumstances inside the jail.

Brazil has recently seen an increase in prison riots with the latest having occurred on Friday at the Monte Cristo Farm Penitentiary (PAMC) in Roraima State. The violence happened as one group of inmates launched a rapid early morning attack against a rival group. At least 33 inmates were killed.

Earlier, at a prison in Manaus, gang members engaged in a 17-hour riot and killed 64 rivals.

Relatives of prisoners wait for information following a riot that occurred inside Desembargador Raimundo Vidal Pessoa prison, in Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil, January 8, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Prisons across the South American country hold 622,000 inmates, according to a 2014 Justice Ministry report, which said the figure was 50 percent more than their capacity. In Sao Paulo, a single guard oversees 300 to 400 inmates in some jails, according to Camila Dias, an expert on Brazil’s prison system.

Overcrowding has made it easy for drug gangs to take control of the jails, which have been hosting thousands of criminals since the government launched a crackdown on drug gangs throughout the country.

Any dispute between the gangs on the streets will almost certainly spread into the largely “self-regulated” jails, according to Rafael Alcadipani, a public security expert. “We see that as soon as we have a gang war, these killings are inevitably going to happen because the state has no control over the prisons.”

The government, however, has attempted to regain control over its prison population by announcing a plan in early January to combat organized crime inside jails. The plan also includes the modernization of the prison system, with the government allocating funds for five new high-security facilities.