The 170 homicides registered last month here in Brazil's largest city represents an increase of 71 percent over November 2011, the Sao Paulo state government said Friday.

At the same time, murders in Sao Paulo city did fall slightly from October, when 176 people were slain.

Statewide, 534 people died violently last month, up 44 percent compared with November 2011.

More than 4,300 homicide investigations were opened in Sao Paulo state during the first 11 months of 2012, almost 14 percent more than in the same period last year.

This year's murder victims include 104 police officers.

Federal officials suggested the surge of violence in metropolitan Sao Paulo that began in October was orchestrated by jailed bosses of the First Capital Command, or PCC, the region's dominant criminal organization.

That interpretation was bolstered by the statements of an ex-convict arrested for a cop killing in interior Sao Paulo state.

The suspect told detectives he shot the policeman at the PCC's behest to settle a debt he owed for drugs supplied to him while he was in prison, O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper said. EFE