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At least 16 criminals use explosives to rob three banks in Vargem Grande Paulista on November 1

During the overnight hours of November 1-2, at least 16 heavily armed criminals arriving in four vehicles reportedly engaged in the robbing of three adjacent banks in Vargem Grande Paulista, approximately 50 km of the São Paulo city center. The attackers, who worked on the crime scene for two hours, blocked access to the town from east and west by burning vehicles along the highway that crosses the town. The robbers then exploded the safe and ATMs at the three banks, and escaped after exchanging fire with the police. Two of the three agencies had been robbed in a similar fashion in 2016. Attacks against a cash-in-transit company in Ribeirão Preto and a supermarket ATM in Guarulhos were also reported on October 29.

Attacks, including with the use of explosives, against ATMs have become commonplace in Brazil, yet incidents of this magnitude, although not unprecedented, are not common. It is unclear whether the same organization is behind the 2016 attack and the recent one, yet it is highly likely that the latter was inspired by the former. The unusual adjacence of the three banks, makes this combined attack possible and potentially highly-profitable. Furthermore, the large number of attackers, use of explosives and the strategic blocking of the main thoroughfare to the town point to a large criminal organization as being behind the incident. This is evidence to the strength and capabilities of organized crime in Brazil, yet smaller groups abound and are also capable and willing to target ATMs and other less-fortified targets, ensuring this trend will persist.

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