Brazil crime gang has spread through most of country

Brazil's largest organized crime gang has now spread across most of the country, according to a Justice Ministry report quoted by a newspaper Sunday.

The gang called the First Command of the Capital is now present in 22 of the country's 27 states, as well as in Paraguay and Bolivia, the report quoted by the O Globo newspaper said.

The group was formed in 1993 by drug traffickers doing time in a prison 140 kilometers from (80 miles) from Sao Paulo. It is blamed for a wave of violence ravaging Sao Paulo state.

In response, authorities have transferred jailed leaders of the gang to maximum-security facilities elsewhere in Brazil.

The report quoted startling numbers: the gang takes in $32 million a year in drug sales and boasts 13,000 members, 6,000 of whom are held in jails in Sao Paulo state.

It said that of the 152 jails in Sao Paulo state, 135 are controlled by the gang. Members who are not in prison have to contribute $400 a month.

The increase in violence blamed on the gang is sobering: So far this year, around 100 people have been killed in Sao Paulo state, compared to 47 in all of 2011.

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