Dozens of criminals armed with assault rifles have invaded the city Criciuma in the state of Santa Catarina in southern Brazil, taking control of the streets overnight Tuesday as they attacked a local bank. The city has some 220,000 people. At least 30 assailants and 10 cars were involved in the well-planned operation. The gunmen traded fire with officers in the city center and at a police station. A security guard and a police officer were seriously wounded. The attackers blocked access to the city using burning vehicles to prevent police reinforcements from responding swiftly and deployed explosives in the robbery. „There was never anything with this scope, this violence,” Anselmo Cruz, head of the state police’s robbery and kidnapping department, told a news conference. Images on Globo showed a bank vault with a square-shaped hole in it and a convoy of criminals’ vehicles as they made their escape.
Bills were scattered across the ground. Some of the gunmen had been hit by police bullets. It’s supposed the attack may have been coordinated by one of Brazil’s powerful organized crime and drug trafficking rings. Bank robberies of one form or another are common in Brazil but this was conducted like a military operation.