RIO DE JANEIRO – Rio de Janeiro police, with the support of the armed forces and other security agencies, on Sunday occupied nine “favelas,” or shantytowns, which were dominated by drug gangs and did so “without a single shot,” officials said.
“The operation was a success. It was done without using firearms, no violence at all, without deaths or injuries,” Rio de Janeiro Security Secretary Jose Mariano Beltrame said.
Participating in the operation were 526 police officers and 105 marines, who were backed up by an armed helicopter and 21 armored military vehicles, Beltrame said, adding that the operation was completed in a little over two hours.
The forces entered the nine favelas in central Rio early in the morning, meeting no resistance from the drug gangs that allegedly operate in those neighborhoods.
The criminals who occupied the zones could have been “intimidated” by the heavy presence of security forces or even could have fled in the days before the operation, but Beltrame said that the troops who occupied the slums will now try to locate them and capture them.
Officers will carry out raids on several homes and other sites that, according to anonymous tips received from local residents, are used by the drug gangs to store arms and drugs, Beltrame said.
In the nine neighborhoods live about 20,000 people who “have been definitively liberated” from the drug gangs that had set themselves up in those areas thanks to the “absence of the state,” which now “has returned to stay,” Beltrame said.
Officials plan to deploy special police units in the favelas and set up permanent police posts designed to guarantee the security of the public.
The operation was similar to the one conducted in late November in the Complexo do Alemao series of favelas, neighborhoods that were considered to be havens for drug traffickers in the city and which were occupied by some 2,600 police and soldiers after two days of clashes.