Latin America & Caribbean

Brazilian police arrested over 'vigilante death squad'

Map of Brazil

Nineteen police officers have been arrested in Brazil on suspicion of belonging to a death squad which has allegedly killed at least 40 people.

Federal police accused the men of forming a vigilante group with the aim of "finishing off" criminals.

A number of women and children without any criminal links are also believed to have fallen victim to the gang.

Officials said the group, which was active for 10 years, often staged shoot-outs to cover up the executions.

Investigators are searching a rural area of Goias which they believe may have been used as a make-shift cemetery by the vigilante group.

Police spokesman Elias Abraao said the death squad mainly targeted drug dealers and thieves, which "it felt it had the right to get rid of".

Most of the suspects are high-ranking officers, including the deputy commander of the Military Police in Goias state.

More on this story