Bye-bye Bonnie and Clyde – Brazil is taking bank robbing to a whole new level

Bye-bye Bonnie and Clyde – Brazil is taking bank robbing to a whole new level Bye-bye Bonnie and Clyde – Brazil is taking bank robbing to a whole new level

September 9, 20212 min read

The media coverage reads like a scene out of a Michael Bay movie. Bank robbers using drones, strategically planting bombs across the city and taking hostages and placing them atop getaway cars.

It’s surreal … but in Brazil, over the top bank heists are becoming the new normal. And the media are looking for experts to try and explain just what it is going on. That’s why the Daily Beast recently contacted Georgia Southern’s expert on Latin America, José de Arimatéia da Cruz, Ph.D.

In the predawn darkness last Monday, a group of about 20 heavily armed commandos seized control of the downtown financial block in Araçatuba, a mid-sized Brazilian city in the eastern state of São Paulo. They then proceeded to rob three banks, while the surveillance drones they had deployed kept watch over head.

When the heist was complete they accosted several bystanders, shot a man who had been filming them on his phone, and then bound the hostages they’d taken to the tops of their getaway vehicles so as to dissuade police from interfering with their escape….

Since 2015 these kinds of attacks have become so common that Brazilians even have a name for them: Novo Cangaço, which roughly translates into English as “New Struggle.”

The name refers to a “social banditry” movement that flourished in Brazil’s hardscrabble northeast in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The original Cangaço sought to battle back against widespread poverty and inequality. It involved Robin-Hood like figures who plagued wealthy landowners, donated to the poor, and pushed the government to jumpstart economic reforms.

“The New Cangaço’s modus operandi is similar” to that of their predecessors, José de Arimatéia da Cruz , Ph.D., told The Daily Beast. The tactics might be alike, but the strategy between the old and new incarnations are quite different, according to da Cruz, who is originally from Brazil but now teaches international relations at Georgia Southern University.

“The difference today is that the traditional cangaceiros [peasant bandits] were fighting against politicians. The Novo Cangaço today are attacking banks and are most basically interested in money for different purposes.”

This is a sensational chain of events – and if you are a reporter covering these escalating crimes in Brazil – then let us help with your stories.

José de Arimatéia da Cruz is available to speak with media regarding this topic — simply reach out to Georgia Southern Director of Communications Jennifer Wise at to arrange an interview today.

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