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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 March, 2003, 16:28 GMT
Lula vows to defeat crime
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
The government will redouble its efforts against crime, Lula promises

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has vowed to win what he called the war against organised crime after the murder of a second prominent judge this month.

Mr da Silva said the killers of the judge, Alexandre Martins de Castro Filho, were not ordinary criminals but part of an organised crime industry.

Mr Martins was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle in the state of Espirito Santo on Monday.

His murder came 10 days after a judge overseeing the prison where some of Brazil's top criminal leaders are held was shot dead.

"We will win the war against organised crime and drug-trafficking," Mr da Silva said, interrupting a prepared speech during a visit to car assembly workers in Sao Paulo.

His government, he said, would redouble its efforts against the criminals.

"These aren't the common bandits we knew. It's an industry for making money."

Drug gangs

Martins, 32, was part of a team investigating organised crime in Espirito Santo, a poor state in eastern Brazil.

Brazilian television reported that the judge had received death threats and had been under police protection.

Two men dressed in black and wearing helmets were waiting on a motorcycle for him as he arrived at a gym on the outskirts of Vitoria, the Associated Press reported.

"This is an attempt to intimidate the judicial power, to intimidate all other branches of power and society," the governor of Espirito Santo, Paulo Hartung, said.

On 14 March, gunmen killed judge Jose Antonio Machado Dias in the city of Presidente Prudente in Sao Paulo state.

His responsibilities included transfers and benefits at a high-security jail in the city.

Police say his gangland-style killing may have been ordered by allies of Luiz Fernando da Costa, head of Rio de Janeiro's biggest drug gangs, the Red Command.

Last month, da Costa, better known as Fernandinho Beira-Mar or Seaside Freddy, was transferred to the jail.

Mr da Silva, who took office in January, has been confronted with a wave of violence by drug gangs in Rio.

The violence prompted the government to deploy troops in the city to keep order during last month's Carnival.

Carnival revellers hit Rio streets
01 Mar 03 |  Americas
Drug gangs bring chaos to Rio
24 Feb 03 |  Americas
Brazil prison judge murdered
15 Mar 03 |  Americas

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