Brazil, Latin America: Week in Review, Southern Cone

Brazilian Man Confesses to Killing 39 People, Attempts Suicide in Jail

October 17, 2014 By Staff

Top Story — A Brazilian man confessed to committing at least 39 murders after police arrested him in the city of Goiânia on Thursday after a 70-day investigation.

Thiago Henrique Gomes de Rocha, a 26-year-old security guard, seems to have targeted women, homeless people and homosexuals. De Rocha, who committed the murders over three years, approached his victims on a motorcycle before demanding their belongings and then shooting them.

Police noted de Rocha’s “coldness” and extreme rage when recounting his crimes. After committing each murder, de Rocha allegedly felt depression and remorse, which he said he could only alleviate by killing more people.

After de Rocha was arrested on Thursday, he attempted suicide in his jail cell, using the base of a broken lightbulb to slit his wrists. A guard managed to prevent de Rocha from completing the act.

De Rocha’s crimes draw attention to the larger phenomenon of violence against gays in Brazil. In recent years, even as overall violent crime rates in the country have decreased, violence against homosexuals has been on the rise. Grupo Gay da Bahia, a gay activist group, reported that 312 LGBT people were murdered in the country in 2013, one every 28 hours.

De Rocha’s arrest also comes after 13 prison guards were taken hostage at a prison riot in Guarapuava, Paraná state on Monday. Such riots are relatively common in Brazil, which has the fourth largest prison population in the world and is often criticized for overcrowding and violence in its prisons.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • The BBC World Service on Thursday published a gripping eyewitness account by a survivor of the Iguala student massacre on Sept. 26.
  • Mexican authorities arrested a Guerreros Unidos gang leader, who is accused of paying some $44,000 a month to the Iguala police chief, who remains at large for his alleged role in the killings and disappearances of student activists, an act in which the police and Guerreros Unidos allegedly colluded.
  • Police arrested five men with cocaine, marijuana, military-grade guns and grenades in the Mexican state of Michoacán, where local vigilante groups continue to clash with the Knights Templar drug cartel.
  • Cid Wilson, of the Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino, is advocating for the U.S. Congress to pass a bill to establish a national museum of Latino culture and history in the unused Arts and Industries Building in Washington, D.C.’s National Mall.
  • Vigilantes in Guerrero state discovered six new clandestine graves after joining the authorities in the search for the 43 students who went missing in Iguala, Mexico.


  • Jamaican immigration authorities denied entry to Yasin Abu Bakr, leader of a radical Islamic group based in Trinidad, designating him a public safety threat.
  • Haiti’s health ministry announced it will enact border controls and set up an isolation units staffed by UN peacekeepers as part of its efforts to prevent the entry of Ebola into a country already ravaged by an ongoing cholera epidemic.
  • Two Cuban editors, who previously transformed a Catholic church magazine into a rare space for criticism and debate have been quietly rolling out an new indepedent journal and planning a series of public forums.

Central America

  • The U.S. government is too quickly deporting undocumented migrants arriving at the Mexican border back to serious risks in their home countries, denying them a serious chance to make asylum claims, according to a report released Thursday by Human Rights Watch.
  • The Americas society investigated Panama’s future economic growth with the expansion of the Panama Canal, noting that corruption and politics may hinder its potential.


  • Venezuela on Thursday secured a seat on the U.N. Security Council for the next two years, despite U.S. objections.
  • A top FARC commander and a government negotiator have, for reasons that remain unclear, left the peace talks currently taking place between the two groups in Havana.

Southern Cone

  • Brazilian federal police on Thursday announced the arrest of 55 people, the result of a year-long investigation into a “dark net” child pornography ring.
  • Argentina on Thursday launched its first satellite, built by a state-owned firm, aboard a European Space Agency rocket.
  • In Paraguay, camouflage-wearing gunmen shot and killed a newspaper reporter who had allegedly been threatened by marijuana growers for his coverage, the third journalist killed this year in the country.

Image: Youtube

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