Brazilian forces struggle to control prison where 26 died

SAO PAULO (AP) " Authorities mounted another operation Friday in their struggle to regain control of a Brazilian prison two weeks after riots left 26 inmates dead.

Specially trained corrections officers, including some from a federal task force sent in for prison emergencies, took control of two pavilions in the Alcacuz prison complex in the morning, a statement from the state Rio Grande do Norte said.

The forces did not encounter resistance, the statement said. They seized a revolver, drugs, cell phones and knives in the operation, and 120 prisoners are being charged with possession of these items.

After the morning raid, the Brazilian flag was again flying over the prison, where gangs had raised their own flags during recent unrest.

Brazil has seen a spasm of violence in prisons this year that led to more than 120 deaths. Fighting between rival gangs held in overcrowded and understaffed facilities has been blamed for the often gruesome killings.

After the Jan. 14 riot at Alcacuz, guards all but abandoned the facility. For a week, they concentrated on ensuring no one escaped and occasionally launched tear gas to break up fights inside.

Military police entered the prison a week ago and built a wall of shipping containers to separate rival gangs. That brought the prison nominally back into state control, but at the time a military police commander said that the entire system had broken down and that establishing order would take time.

Authorities expect the current operation to take another 30 days, including rebuilding damaged parts of the prison. They will also need to enter and take control of the three other pavilions in the complex.

Even before the riots, guard control of the complex was tenuous.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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