BRASILIA – Police confirmed on Saturday that 14 people were killed and six more wounded in a shooting attack in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza, an incident that suspects say was a settling of scores between rival gangs in the drug-trafficking trade.
The incident occurred before dawn Saturday morning at a club in the poverty-stricken Cajazeiras district of Fortaleza, capital of the northeastern state of Ceara, when an armed group showed up at the club and opened fire in a patio where a party was being held.
According to eye-witnesses cited by local media, the attackers drove up in at least three vehicles and fled after their massive shooting.
“Some witnesses say that dozens of gunmen showed up by surprise and started shooting. Others say there were 15 heavily armed attackers, who drove up in three cars,” according to Fortaleza’s Military Police, who are investigating the case.
Authorities said they have no clues about the motive of the attack, but are working on the theory that this was a case of a settling of scores between two drug-trafficking gangs.
Ceara Security Secretary Andre Costa told a press conference that the chief suspects indicate that the attack was perpetrated by a gang known as the Guardians of the State, which is “at war” with the rival Vermelho Command for control of the points of sale for drugs in Fortaleza’s poorer neighborhoods.
The six people who were wounded have been admitted to Jose Frota Hospital in downtown Fortaleza, and at least two of them are in serious condition.
Last year Ceara state had a total of 5,023 homicides, a 47-percent increase over 2016, according to official statistics.
According to those same records, 82 percent of those violent deaths were related to drug trafficking.