BRAZIL: Death Squads

Return of the vigilantes

The victims are often found lying in roadside ditches on the outskirts of teeming favelas, the makeshift slums surrounding Rio de Janeiro or industrial São Paulo. Their hands are usually tied behind their backs with nylon cord. The bodies often show signs of torture: cigarette burns, bruises, broken teeth, occasionally even castration. Almost all are riddled with gunshot wounds. Sometimes the corpses have been drenched in gasoline and then set ablaze, making identification impossible.

Those grisly scenes of execution are becoming alarmingly commonplace in Brazil's major cities. Hundreds of such deaths have been reported so far this...

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