Using helicopters and highway roadblocks, police on Thursday set up a nationwide dragnet for inmates who fled a maximum-security prison with hostages, guns, cellular phones and $100,000 in cash.
Six hostages used as human shields during Wednesday’s escape from the Agro-Industrial Penitentiary were released unharmed, said Capt. Washington Cavalcanti of the Goias police.
The inmates’ flight was part of a deal, worked out with authorities during their six-day standoff, in which they received guns, cars and money in exchange for releasing some of the hostages.
Two police cruisers escorted the eight getaway cars out of the maximum-security prison at dusk, through a barricade of officers and sharpshooters.
On Thursday, state troopers and federal police in vans and three helicopters fanned out in and around Goias state, in Brazil’s central region, said Cavalcanti.
Heavily armed troopers set up armored-car roadblocks on highways connecting Goias to the states of Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo, Mato Grosso and Tocantins, he said.
“It appears these elements have spread out around the country,” said Cavalcanti by telephone from Goiania, the state capital. “But we’ll get every last one of them.”
Of the 40 inmates that fled, 30 were still at large, he said, while eight had been recaptured and two were killed in a shootout. One innocent bystander was killed during an exchange of gunfire.
Earlier, government negotiators had said 43 prisoners escaped, but Cavalcanti said that figure was incorrect.