The increase in violence in the Brazilian city of Campinas prompted a court order for police to escort letter carriers.

With 3.5 million inhabitants, Campinas is the second-largest city in Sao Paulo state, where 4,439 people were slain last year.

Though murders are relatively common in the richest, most populated state in the country, Campinas stands out for its unequaled violence, a recent example being the killing of 12 people on the same night of Jan. 12.

Five cops are under investigation in connection with the massacre, which media outlets blame on "extermination groups" comprised of law enforcement officers seeking revenge for the death of a policeman during a gas-station robbery.

Mailmen in the municipality, after suffering constant assaults and acts of extortion, had no choice but to ask security forces for protection.

In the most dangerous areas of Campinas, "deliveries are being made with an escort" and "some areas are adopting a different model of delivering" correspondence, a spokesperson for the postal service told Efe.

The model consists of delivering a notice to addressees telling them where to go pick up their mail.

The postal service has signed an agreement with the Federal Police "for the establishment of integrated actions to prevent and curtail mail-carrier robberies and post-office assaults throughout Brazil."

The agreement, according to the postal service, will allow actions to be expanded that have already been adopted in Campinas and which "have led to a 36-percent reduction of robberies."

In the 1990s, cops in Campinas "were mobilized to escort certain trucks due to a spike in robberies of merchandise being transported through the city," former policeman Valdomiro Tina told Efe.

"Those were robberies with a lot of money at stake, but now we even have to escort the mail, and leaving the streets unpatrolled is unheard of," Tina, now a private security consultant, said. EFE