The state's public security department said that buses and cars were torched and gas stations were attacked in Fortaleza, the capital, and in at least six other cities.
The intervention is the first test of new President Jair Bolsonaro's strict law-and-order platform since he took office last Tuesday.
At TeleSUREnglish, Ignacio Limas reported that there is speculation in Brazil "that the restructuring of the pension system may take the shape of the Chilean retirement system", which is heralded by conservatives in the USA but has been blamed for helping to usher in some of the worst wealth inequality in the developed world.
With this decision, one that raised a huge storm in Brazil and sparked fears of environmental catastrophe, Bolsonaro also included an executive order that allows the Office of Secretary of State military General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Kruz to coordinate and monitor the activities and actions of worldwide organizations and non-governmental organizations in the national territory. Some 50 suspects have been arrested.
The triggers for the wave of violence were being investigated, but intelligence reports published by media suggested gangs were revolting against tough new measures recently imposed in the state's prisons.
Ceará state officials in recent days have said they would start sending prisoners to whatever jails had space, and not separate those incarcerated according to gang affiliation. He also said he would ease gun laws to allow "good" citizens to challenge armed criminals.
Sarri hints at the need for Chelsea to sign attackers in January
I have a very good view on our players, what I can expect from them and what I don't see. Today was really important to try to change the match.
The 63-year-old former paratrooper has made "restoring order" the main feature of his four-year term.
Brazil's prison gangs have a reach far beyond the country's jails, which have the world's third largest population behind the United States and China, with almost 730,000 inmates in 2016.
Mr Bolsonaro reportedly praised Justice Minister Sergio Moro's decision to send in troops as "apt, rapid and effective".
The state's governor belongs to the Workers' Party, which is now the left-wing opposition following Mr Bolsonaro's ascent to power.
It also signalled the apparent start of a new era of sweeping deregulation in Brazil, a country once lauded for its strides in environmental protection - including its stewardship of the world's largest rain forest.
Peter Prengaman reported from Rio de Janeiro.