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  1. buckcamp
    RIO DE JANEIRO – Police searched homes and secured the perimeter of a Rio de Janeiro shantytown Friday that has long been a stronghold for drug gangs and a symbol of their ability to rule vast areas of the seaside city with impunity.


    Nov. 25: A police officer rides a motorcycle past a vehicle set on fire during riots at Rio Comprido shantytown in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    About 80 federal police officers joined state police in door-to-door searches in the Vila Cruzeiro slum as 800 military troops, trained in surrounding and isolating conflict areas, stood ready in their headquarters, 12 miles (20 kilometers) away, to back them up.

    The area had been taken by law enforcement just hours before during a five-hour operation using armored vehicles and assault rifles.
    After bulletproof vehicles had their tires blown out by gangs or were stymied by burning tires, police relied on armored personnel carriers equipped with caterpillar treads to roll over or push aside barriers and enter the fortified shantytown.

    Officials trumpeted their victory Friday, hailing it as a sign of a new Rio. "If I am here telling you this area will be pacified, it's a sign things have changed," Roberto Sa, deputy public-safety secretary for Rio state, told a news conference.

    "But we don't get resources by snapping our fingers. We can't do magic. The challenge is still significant, but we have a goal, and we're not giving back a single millimeter."

    Slum residents, streaming out down steep, narrow alleys to jobs in the city below, had mixed reactions as officers approached them. Some ran away, and others stayed to welcome them and cooperate by showing their identification.

    Marcilio Alves, treasurer of the residents association of Chatuba, one of the slums in the nearby Alemao complex of shantytowns, and whose son and ex-wife live in Vila Cruzeiro, said people were trying get back to their routines Friday.

    But the community remained without electricity, as utility workers were afraid of going up the hillside to repair wiring damaged during the incursion. Residents were also nervous, because the police force's hold on the area was still seen as tenuous, and they were afraid that cooperating with law enforcement officials or talking to the news media would brand them as snitches if the gangs returned, Alves said.

    "The police are saying they're going to bring order to the place, but who knows what will really happen," he said. "The traffickers, they're like a fever in a city that's sick: They go away but they come back."
    More than 80 abandoned motorcycles and at least one body were found during the search Friday morning, reminders of the gang's quick retreat the day before to the Alemao complex — among the best-defended gang turf in the city.

    About 192 people have been arrested or detained since the start of the widespread violence Sunday, said police spokesman Henrique de Lima Castro Saraiva. More than 96 buses and cars have been burned on major roadways, many motorists have been robbed and police outposts have been shot in the city that will host the final match of the 2014 World Cup as well as the 2016 Olympics.

    It is unclear how many people died in Thursday's violence, but police said at least 25 have been killed since Sunday. Three police officers have been injured so far.

    The military support was authorized late Thursday by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to help police keep their hold on the occupied area and prevent gang members from escaping.

    "Anything we can do for Rio, we'll do," Silva told reporters from Guyana, where he is attending a summit of the Union of South American Nations. "It is not acceptable that 99 percent of well-meaning, hardworking people who want to live in peace are affected by violent groups."

    Military spokesman Enio Zanan said the military troops designated to help are trained in suppressing conflict and have served in Haiti. Two other battalions of 800 troops each could be deployed as needed over the next few days, he said.

    Security officials declined to say if they would enter Alemao on Friday or if they would wait, invading the area sometime within the next six months, as had been planned earlier.

    Brazil is trying to clean up the seaside city before the World Cup and Olympics. Over the past two years, authorities have established permanent police posts in 13 slums as part of an effort to bring basic services to the communities and rid them of violence related to drug trafficking.

    "We took from these people what has never before been taken — their territory, their safe harbor," Rio state Public Safety Director Jose Beltrame said. "It's important to arrest them, but it's more important to take their territory."

    The city's Olympic committee has complete confidence in the pacification project being carried out, and in its long-term results, the president of the Rio 2016 committee, Carlos Arthur Nuzman, said in a statement.

    "The support of civil society and the population of Rio de Janeiro at this time represents the clearest demonstration that the public-safety policy pursued by the government of Rio de Janeiro is on the right track," Nuzman said.

    The marines driving the armored personnel carriers for the police for the most part did not engage in the fighting, security officials said. There no reports of the vehicles' heavy weapons being used in the slum.

    Police had not released the identities of all those killed in five days of clashes, but spokesman Lima Castro acknowledged Wednesday that some "bystanders would be affected" by the battles.

    The oldest patient admitted to Getulio Vargas hospital during the conflict was an 81-year-old who was grazed by a bullet, and the youngest, a 10-year-old child hit with grenade shrapnel, said Rio Health Department spokeswoman Valeria Bravo.

    Published November 25, 2010 | Associated Press
    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/11/25/rio-police-targeting-slum-gang-based/?test=latestnews

Comments

  1. buckcamp
    Rio cops, troops seem ready to invade gang haven

    [IMGL="white"]http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=18080&stc=1&d=1290868547[/IMGL]RIO DE JANEIRO – Soldiers and police fought with gangsters hunkered down in the twisting alleys of a sprawling shantytown, blocking the escape of drug traffickers in an escalating confrontation that promised residents a dangerous weekend.
    Brazilian authorities did not detail their plans early Saturday, but it appeared security forces were preparing to invade the Alemao complex, a group of more than a dozen of Rio's most menacing slums.

    About 800 soldiers began providing support Friday for a police offensive that the previous day saw officers take back control of a nearby slum where gangs had held sway for decades. Authorities began raids on slums after a surge of gang violence broke out Sunday.

    "Sooner or later, we're going to get these criminals," Rio state Public Safety Director Jose Beltrame told the Globo television network Friday night. "The anguish of Rio's citizens is my anguish. But we have our objectives and we cannot retreat."

    Brazilian officials are also concerned about the image of the city that will be host for the final match of the 2014 World Cup and Summer Olympics in 2016.

    Military spokesman Enio Zanan said that soldiers came under fire from drug gang members hiding in the large Alemao complex, but that the troops were not shooting back because it endanger "innocent people in the community."

    AP Television News video, however, showed at least one soldier firing his assault rifle at the slum, and the newspaper O Globo reported heavy exchanges of gunfire between troops and gang members.
    Police said at least 32 people — mostly suspected drug gang members — had been killed in the battles since Sunday.

    Beyond the deaths, basic services such as mail delivery and retail were disrupted as workers stayed home out of fear, or because bus companies kept vehicles off the roads for safety reasons. Many schools remained closed on the city's poorer north side, where many slums sit.

    Trains connecting the suburbs to the city had 10,000 fewer riders Friday morning, according to SuperVia, the company operating them.
    Bars and restaurants emptied out all over town. The number of customers plunged 60 percent from usual levels, according to a statement by SindRio, which represents eateries and hotels.

    Trash collection was suspended in the conflict zone and electricity was still out, the result of damage to cables during clashes between police and gunmen. The waste management company, Comlurb, and Light, which delivers electricity, issued statements saying it wasn't safe for their workers to enter the slums.

    While gunfire rattled in Alemao, federal and state police conducted door-to-door searches and patrols in the nearby Vila Cruzeiro slum. That area was seized by officers Thursday during a five-hour operation using armored vehicles and assault rifles.

    After police armored cars had their tires blown out by gangs or were stymied by burning tires, police relied on military armored personnel carriers equipped with caterpillar treads to roll over or push aside barriers and enter the fortified shantytown.

    Officials trumpeted their success in Vila Cruzeiro, hailing it as a sign of a new Rio.

    The governor of Rio state, Sergio Cabral, said the moment was historic — proving that no part of Rio is beyond the reach of the law. He also hailed the cooperation of the armed forces with police to bring peace to Rio, a city infamous among Brazilians for the violence of its lawless shantytowns.

    "We have demonstrated to those who don't respect the law ... the pre-eminence of a democratic state governed by the law," he said. "Bringing peace to this population makes this a very important day for Rio."

    Nearly 200 people have been arrested or detained since the start of the widespread violence Sunday, police spokesman Henrique de Lima Castro Saraiva said. More than 96 buses and cars were burned on major roadways, many motorists robbed and police outposts have been attacked.
    ___
    Associated Press writers Bradley Brooks in Sao Paulo, Cristian Salazar in New York and APTN producer Flora Charner in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this report.
    Published November 26, 2010 | Associated Press
    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/11/26/cops-soldiers-trade-gunmen-rio-slum/?test=latestnews
  2. buckcamp
    War for Rio? Olympic city facing gang backlash

    RIO DE JANEIRO – The drug gang leader jabs the muzzle of his .556-caliber Sig Sauer assault rifle around as he talks.

    Yes, Jogador says emphatically, Rio's drug gangs are feeling threatened by the biggest police push against them in the city's history, a Herculean effort to improve security before the 2016 Olympics. The heavily armed criminal gang he helps lead is being driven from long-held turf in the slums, leading to losses in cocaine and marijuana sales.

    It's what the 25-year-old career criminal says next, with a low laugh and a nodding of his head, that strikes at the heart of fears in this seaside city: He says that Rio's gangs are preparing for a return to the city's most violent days.

    "You take any animal and put it up against the wall," he says, eyes ablaze, pointing the tip of his Swiss-made weapon toward a whitewashed ledge pocked by bullets. "Its last option is what? To attack."

    A radio attached to his black sports shorts begins squawking wildly. Police have captured a lookout on the edge of the western Rio slum his gang rules. Young men with rifles and semiautomatic pistols are scurrying about, preparing for yet another police invasion.

    Jogador turns the radio down. It's hard to tell how much of what he says is bravado and how much is warning, but there is plenty of both.
    "Rio de Janeiro is going to get really small," says Jogador, who agreed to talk on condition he be identified by a nickname police would not know. "Rio de Janeiro is going to tremble."
    ___

    Rio is seeing violent, chaotic days. Just as Jogador, who spoke to The Associated Press two weeks before the recent clashes, said it would be.

    Armed men have set up roadblocks in key areas — a highway leading to the international airport, an avenue running by the state government's headquarters, quiet streets in wealthier neighborhoods — letting loose rifle fire, tossing grenades. More than 100 cars and buses stopped in the dragnets have been set on fire, usually after their occupants fled.

    Police responded by invading more than 20 slums, engaging traffickers in massive shootouts, killing at least 25 people, mostly suspected drug gang members, and arresting more than 200.

    Authorities now control one of the most fortified slums where traffickers long ruled with impunity, and are preparing to invade another that many fear will ignite an even bloodier battle.

    The scenes of urban warfare in Rio on the nightly news bring back memories of 2002, when drug gangs protesting the prison conditions of their incarcerated leaders shut down Rio, a city of 6 million people — twice the size of Chicago.

    They burned buses, sprayed government buildings with bullets and grenades, and sent foot soldiers out to warn businesses to close. Similar shutdowns went on for months.

    Now the three major gangs are preparing for another fight, and according to Jogador, are ready to end their bloody rivalries and join forces against the police. Rio's top security official and governor acknowledge that the battle is heating up — and that the gangs seem to be unifying.

    "These are classic acts of terror, an effort to create and diffuse a sense of insecurity throughout the city," said Paulo Storani, a security consultant who spent nearly 30 years on the police force and was a captain in an elite Rio unit sent in to clear slums. "The mass robberies, the burning of cars, these are just the beginning of a response by the drug gangs."

    The reason, security analysts say, is economics. For two years, police have invaded the slums and installed 13 permanent posts — not much in a squalid sea of more than 1,000 slums, but enough to make a point. The gangs are losing slums and the drug revenues they yield.

    The fear is that there is a tipping point when the gangs decide it costs less to fight the police than to give up the slums, and that this moment is at hand.

    Since September, armed men have carried out scores of mass robberies of motorists. The recent episodes are much more frequent than in the past and of a different nature. Few of the cars have been stolen. Instead, they are torched as vivid forms of protest, or motorists are ordered to hand over their keys, stranding the vehicles and clogging traffic.

    The gunmen then melt back into the city, leaving behind panic and chaos.

    The tension is growing as police prepare to go into the largest slums that are the backbone of the gangs' operations. One, the Alemao complex, surrounds a road that leads to the international airport. On
    Friday, it was surrounded by police after officers invaded the neighboring Vila Cruzeiro slum and drove armed gangsters from there to Alemao.

    The other, Rocinha, is on the other side of the city, a sprawling mass of shacks on a route that will connect the main venues of the 2016 Olympics with the rest of the city.

    Both are densely packed, creating a human shield for the gang leaders. They are also havens for drug production and serve as lucrative distribution points.

    "They are not going to simply leave these areas and hand them over to police," says Storani. "Losing them would be a huge blow to the infrastructure of the traffickers. There is going to be a fight — and heavy fighting at that."
    ___

    The crowd of 300 slum residents sits in white plastic chairs neatly aligned on a large concrete slab, chipped and faded blue paint on its surface marking the outlines of a soccer field.

    They're staring at something they've never seen: a government official addressing them.

    "We are here. Our presence here will remain. The police will no longer leave you. But the police alone cannot win this fight. We need your help."

    Rio state Public Safety Director Jose Beltrame, in charge of the armed security forces, stares intently back at the crowd, speaking in a staccato cadence, trying to pierce the cloud of doubt.

    "We can bring another reality here. That is not a political promise. We have already brought security and social services to other communities," he says.

    It was midmorning on a rainy Saturday in early November and Beltrame, the architect of the police program to take over the slums, was standing in the Morro dos Macacos slum. He was there to celebrate the creation of his 13th police post in a slum, known as a pacification police unit, or UPP. This slum was taken three weeks earlier without a shot.

    The crowd applauds after Beltrame speaks. Behind the claps, however, are worries.

    "The devil lives inside this slum. They've got to end the misery, the poverty. Look at this place, full of filthiness, just a mess," says
    Henrique, a slum resident who only gives his first name for fear that the drug gangs will return. "I hope that God gives these men the strength to change things here, but I don't have much faith they will."

    Antonio Carlos Costa, director of Rio de Paz, an anti-violence group, says the UPPs are by far the best development police have presented.
    But the big doubt, he says, is whether they can be sustained.

    "You need more police, you need better-trained and better-paid police," he says. "There is no way they can pacify all the communities. If you push the traffickers out of one area, they naturally just flow to another."

    Costa thinks Rio is at a moment of dramatic change.

    "We could have one of the scariest scenarios imaginable, that the gangs declare an all-out war and we return to the levels of violence seen in the 1990s, the most violent period of Rio's history," says Costa. "But we also could have a way out, with the international pressure to improve security before the Olympics, which should bring more money in to combat crime."
    ___

    With the pistol held to his head, Antonio Freitas' first thoughts were for his two sons, ages 7 and 12, sitting in the back seat of his car playing Nintendo video games.

    Armed men blocked off a quiet cobblestone road in his leafy neighborhood one evening in late October, descending from a slum to the "asphalt" — as the Rio outside of the shantytowns is known.

    Suddenly, Freitas was caught in one of the mass robberies that have hit Rio. It happened a block away from the state government's headquarters, Palacio Guanabara.

    "I just kept thinking of the horror it would be if the thief stole my car with my two sons inside," he recalls. "I warned the boys to keep quiet because we were going to be assaulted."

    A lifelong resident of Rio, Freitas, 59, says he watched the idyllic tropical city of his youth spiral into violence with economic crises in the 1970s and '80s and the arrival of a heavy cocaine trade that fuels gang wars to this day.

    But the gunmen were not there to steal cars. Instead, they took the little cash that was on him and his car keys — and those of other victims on the street — so they could not get away, and their vehicles blocked the road.

    Another car made its way down the winding, inclined street. Instead of getting caught in the trap, its driver punched it in reverse, tires squealing. The gun to Freitas' head was removed and the criminal ran after the car trying to escape, firing shots.

    The gunmen made off — they were, after all, 100 yards from the state's seat of power.

    Freitas says nothing was said about the UPPs, there were no political statements about police actions. But he has little doubt about a motive.

    "The action," he says, "was terror on the asphalt."
    ___

    Back at the slum, Jogador offers no details on whether the recent mass robberies and burning of cars are being ordered by drug gang bosses. He also does not deny it.

    "If they come attacking, we're going to find a way to make them pay," he says. "Every action has a reaction."

    Beyond the threats, he offers up some can't-we-all-just-get-along suggestions, along with doomsday predictions if the UPPs continue.

    "I think the World Cup would be a lot more peaceful, the Olympics would be a lot more peaceful, if they stopped invading our slums," he says. "If they come shooting in our community, where do we have to go? We're going to come over to their side and then things will get difficult for them."

    But he also says he does not think the police will stop, and neither will the gangs.

    "If they try to put a UPP here," he says, "there will be a war."
    Jogador pulls his rifle strap over his head and laces it around his right shoulder. He walks to the street's edge, talks to other gang members. His hand is always on his weapon, watching and waiting for the police to arrive.

    Published November 27, 2010 | Associated Press
    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/11/27/war-rio-olympic-city-facing-gang-backlash/
  3. Spucky
    Rio de Janeiro drug gangs face ultimatum

    Rio de Janeiro drug gangs face ultimatum

    The commander of Rio de Janeiro's military police yesterday issued a stark ultimatum to drug traffickers: surrender or face the consquences.
    Speaking on Saturday morning, following days of fierce gunfights between police and gang members, Colonel Mário Sérgio Duarte said his troops were preparing to storm the Complexo do Alemão shanty town, the headquarters of Rio's Red Command drug faction.
    [IMGL="black"]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=18091&stc=1&d=1290932553[/IMGL]

    "It is better to surrender now and hand over your guns while there is still time," he said. "When we invade it will be more difficult.
    "The traffickers have no chance of success in this war," he added. "The criminals have the chance to turn themselves in now... and to receive the treatment they are due under law."

    Clashes between Red Command foot soldiers and the police began last Wednesday following a series of attacks across Rio, reputedly carried out by members of the drug faction.

    A week of violence has so far claimed at least 51 lives, while a two-year-old girl and a Reuters photographer were shot on Friday. Paulo Whitaker, the photographer, was reportedly hit by a stray bullet and was expected to leave hospital yesterday. With a massive police invasion imminent, Duarte advised residents of the war-torn slum to lock themselves indoors.

    Antonio Carlos Costa, director of the NGO Rio da Paz, pleaded with authorities to give traffickers a deadline to hand themselves in. "We do not want this to turn into Vietnam," he told the news website SRZD.
    Meanwhile Rio's civil police launched a giant operation to arrest relatives and lawyers of Red Command members.
    "If we think that person has overstepped the line, they will be treated like a criminal,"
    said the head of Rio's civil police, Allan Turnowski.

    The Guardian


    Rio Finally Makes Headway Against its Drug Gangs (new article)


    Rio de Janeiro is almost as savage as it is beautiful. So after it was awarded the 2016 Olympic Games, city officials took action to make the self-proclaimed "Marvelous City" a safer place. Authorities ramped up an already growing program that used "softly, softly" tactics to bring community police stations into the favelas where drug gangs held sway.
    The traffickers went quietly at first, but if authorities thought the vicious and powerfully armed factions were beaten, they got a rude awakening this week. Rival drug gangs fought back, uniting for the first time in years to take on the police and terrorize a city that has seen more than its share of bloodshed. After five days of bus burnings, shootings, attacks and counterattacks, at least 39 people were dead, including some civilians caught in the cross fire. The trouble flared on Sunday, Nov. 21, after drug gangs angry at the prospect of losing their territory fired on police stations and torched buses and cars. Such choreographed waves of attacks are not uncommon in Rio, but police usually seek to contain the trouble — and keep it far from the big tourist districts of Copacabana, Sugar Loaf and Christ the Redeemer — rather than counterattack. But this time, the reaction was different. "What we have are terrorist acts clearly [designed] to corner authorities and create a climate of 'This policy isn't working, because we can do what we want,' " said Rio Mayor Eduardo Pães. "We are not asking for a truce with terrorists, criminals, delinquents. This time we are not going to back down." Putting muscle and firepower into Pãaes' words, the Rio police borrowed massive armored vehicles from the navy that enabled the cops to enter the heavily built-up favelas with a measure of protection.
    [IMGR="black"]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=18092&stc=1&d=1290932934[/IMGR]

    The traffickers retreated en masse up hills and along dirt paths into neighboring shanties. Vivid footage shot from TV helicopters showed bandits, their automatic weapons slung over their backs, fleeing on foot, on motorbike and crammed into the backs of pickups. Some appeared to be downed by police fire. "We have taken from these people what was never taken from them before — their territory," said Jose Mariano Beltrame, Rio state's security chief, using unusually warlike language. "They commit their barbarous acts, and they run for their hideouts, protected by weapons of war. It's important to arrest them, but it is more important to occupy their territory. Without seizing territory, there is no advance."

    Advances have been hard to come by in Rio for some time, and not just in terms of security. Since losing its capital status to Brasília in 1960, Rio has been in decline; investment dried up, brains and businesses fled to arch rival São Paulo, and violence became endemic. The number of favelas grew exponentially, and everything from traffic violations to murder seemed to go unpunished. Rio state, which has a population of 15 million people, saw 5,794 people murdered last year. (By comparison, New York City, with a population around 8 million, had fewer than 500 murders in the same period.)

    But when Pães took over as mayor two years ago, something changed. The crusading young technocrat halted the torpor with a campaign that, like the "broken windows" strategy of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, went after even the pettiest of offenders. Buoyed by record investment ahead of the 2016 Olympics and 2014 World Cup (whose final will be held in the city's legendary Maracanã stadium) and aided by a new climate of cooperation between municipal, state and federal leaders, Pães gave locals a sense that authorities were making serious efforts to tackle the city's problems for the first time in years.

    Central to that was the Pacifier Police Divisions (UPP), squadrons of officers who have occupied favelas with community-policing methods pioneered in U.S. cities like New York and Boston. Unlike in the past, when officers stormed into and out of favelas with guns blazing, this time UPP officers entered quietly and stayed. The strategy has so far been implemented in only 15 of Rio's 1,000 or so favelas, but it has been successful, and there are plans to expand it as time goes on.
    That is bad news for drug gangs, who have felt the squeeze on them and their profits. Three gangs control the lucrative trades of marijuana and cocaine, and their turf wars are the source of much of the city's violence. One of the most notable aspects of this week's trouble — and a sure sign that they are taking the UPP threat seriously — is that the gangs have united forces for the first time since they splintered in the mid-1990s.
    Now those gangs are quite literally on the run. Rio's future depends largely on how they regroup and react. This week's battles could mark the beginning of the end — or a new phase in a longer and bloodier war.


    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2033277,00.html#ixzz16Z0LHgJr
  4. Spucky
    AW: Rio Police Take Gang Stronghold

    Military ousts drug gangs in battle for Rio ghetto

    A decisive military sweep, security forces have seized control of Rio de Janeiro's most notorious slum,
    claiming victory in a week-long battle against drug gangs that claimed dozens of lives.[IMGR="black"]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=18101&stc=1&d=1291051487[/IMGR] By early Sunday afternoon military police had raised the flags of Brazil and Rio atop a building on the highest hill in the Alemao shantytown complex, providing a rare moment of celebration in a decades-long battle to rid the city's violent slums of drug gangs.
    An air of calm and relief swept through the neighbourhood, and dozens of children ran from their houses in shorts and bikinis to plunge into a swimming pool that had belonged to a gang leader, even as the police searched for drugs one floor below.

    Residents congregated around televisions in bars and restaurants, cheering on the police even as occasional gunfire peppered the sunny skies.
    ''Now the community is ours,'' Jovelino Ferreira, a 60-year-old pastor, said, his eyes filling with tears. ''We have to have faith.''

    Drug gangs have contributed heavily to giving Rio one of the highest murder rates in the world. For the past two years the government has carried out an ambitious campaign to pacify the most violent slums and regain control of the city ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. Police have since wrested more than three dozen communities from criminal gangs, installing special community police forces there.
    As those areas were cleared, some gang members fled to Alemao, a violent, sprawling slum complex with some 100,000 residents that the city's police chief, Jose Mariano Beltrame, called ''the heart of evil''.
    In the past week 42 people have been killed in fighting between gangs and security forces, though police refuse to say if any of their officers have died.

    On Sunday authorities unleashed 2600 police and soldiers, aided by tanks and personnel carriers. More than 15 armoured vehicles blocked 80 entrances to the neighbourhood.
    ''Today we are assured of the state's victory,'' said Commander Mario Sergio Duarte of the military police, who led the operation.
    The New York Times

    Rio Police Gain Edge Against Gangs


    RIO DE JANEIRO—Backed by military hardware and hundreds of soldiers, Rio de Janeiro police appeared to get the upper hand in a deadly weeklong battle against heavily-armed gangs that rule many of the city's sprawling hillside shantytowns.
    But the coastal city, preparing to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament and the 2016 summer Olympic Games, still faces huge challenges to bring order to vast slums that became havens for drug-funded criminal gangs during decades of neglect by successive local governments.


    At least 46 people are dead in eight days since police cracked down on a wave of robberies and vehicle burnings by suspected gang members.
    Authorities said they scored an important victory Sunday after nearly 3,000 police and soldiers, some in armored vehicles, occupied the giant Complexo do Alemão slum, a stronghold of one of the city's most feared gangs and a refuge for others fleeing police.
    The raid netted several arrests among gang leadership, as well as dozens of assault rifles, ammunition and packages of cocaine and marijuana, police said. Police have made more than 100 arrests in the crackdown. Government officials said police discovered as much as 40 tons of marijuana in Alemão.[IMGL="black"]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=18102&stc=1&d=1291052082[/IMGL]
    It was the second big shantytown occupied by police since Thursday. In a symbol of how the neighborhoods have long existed outside government control, police planted a Brazil flag at Alemão's high point after Sunday's operation.

    "We won," said Col. Mário Sérgio Duarte, who heads the military police for Rio de Janeiro state. "We brought peace to the Alemão community."
    Keeping the peace and spreading it to the hundreds of other shantytowns, known as favelas, that cling to the hills that slope down to Rio's beaches may be the hard part. Occupying all of the city's slums will take a massive expansion of police.
    Meanwhile, officials concede that many gang members in occupied slums have slipped away amid the labyrinths of narrow streets and precarious handmade brick dwellings.

    Truly reintegrating the favelas, home to as many as one million people, or 20% of the city, will require big investments in security, infrastructure and education.

    The seriousness of the task was on display over the weekend at an entrance to Alemão, where Brazilian troops in camouflage and elite paramilitary police in dark uniforms, bullet-resistant vests and assault rifles, gathered before mountingtheir raid. A tank with its main barrel pointed up into the slum sat in the middle of the dusty, unpaved entrance.

    For police, distinguishing between gang members and innocent favela dwellers is part of the challenge.
    Men, mostly dressed in Bermuda shorts and T-shirts, were checked at the entrance for identification by police, who detained dozens over two days.

    Saturday afternoon, police and gang members had a 20-minute gun battle near the favela entrance. Three frightened children waiting for their father, among those detained in a police bus, hid behind a wall crying. A house burst into flames. A motionless man was pulled from the burning house. No police were injured in the exchange. It wasn't immediatelyclear whether any gang members were killed or hurt.

    By late Saturday, another shootout broke out and police said a deadline for gang members to surrender had passed. At around 8 a.m. Sunday morning, troops and armored vehicles invaded the shantytown and occupied it.
    Many in Rio support the efforts, despite the death toll and a historical suspicion of police. Armored vehicles heading toward the favelas on Saturday were applauded in some cases.
    A Brazilian television reporter outside one shantytown said she received a letter supporting the police smuggled to her by a favela dweller, apparently afraid of gang retaliation, inside a matchbox.
    At least one father turned his gang-member son in to authorities.
    The past eight days were the most bloody in a two-year effort by Rio de Janeiro Gov. Sérgio Cabral to restore law and order in Rio's slums.

    Rio's Olympic organizers also issued statements supporting the police.

    With a view toward reducing Rio's high crime rates ahead of the World Cup and Olympics, Mr. Cabral deployed permanent "peacekeeping" police in 13 slums around the city. Previously, police work meant paramilitaries with high-power rifles entering the areas, often shooting, in operations they called "incursions."
    The peacekeeping police have forced gangs to give up territory and scatter to other slums. In retaliation, Mr. Cabral said, gangs earlier this month began burning cars and other vehicles across Rio. Police, later backed by soldiers, responded by invading several gang strongholds.

    "I reaffirm my commitment to pacify all of the communities in the dominion of a parallel power," Mr. Cabral said late Saturday.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703785704575642871299626804.html

  5. buckcamp
    Services flood into slums after takeover


    RIO DE JANEIRO – The lights went back on, the trash finally went out and a week of tension and violence came to a close in two of Brazil's most notorious slums on Thursday — but with police instead of drug gangs patrolling the narrow streets.

    Police and troops charged into Vila Cruzeiro on Thursday and the Alemao complex on Sunday to drive out gangs who had long ruled the hillside slums. It was part of an effort to help make Rio safer for the 2016 Olympics and 2014 World Cup of soccer.

    Utility workers finished restoring power on Thursday and garbage collectors removed about 150 tons of accumulated trash. The government sent two buses full of labor recruiters to offer possible jobs, or at least training courses.

    Police controlled the dirt streets snaking up the hills, but most of the 600 criminals they had sought when they raided the slums remained at large. Many fled — some through a maze of storm drains. Police said they had arrested 124 suspects in the slums since Monday.

    With the gang power broken, in those slums at least, even some relatives were turning suspects in to authorities.

    Diego Raimundo da Silva dos Santos, known as Mr. M, walked out of Alemao by his mother's side on Saturday and she handed her son to awaiting officers.

    Another trafficker, Carlos Augusto Trindade, was arrested within Alemao after his father, a plumber, dragged him by the arm to a police unit on Sunday.

    "I have four sons, and the others are hardworking. With children, you tell them not to get involved in crime, but they don't always listen," said the suspect's father, Ivanildo Dias Trindade to the Correio Braziliense newspaper. "One day, they have to pay."

    Elizeu Felicio de Souza, known as Zeu, was arrested without resistance at his home on Sunday, according to police. Zeu had escaped prison where he had been serving time for his role in the torture and murder of a journalist in 2002, and had been in hiding.

    Highway police on the lookout for suspects fleeing Rio arrested six suspects between Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Three were previously wanted by law enforcement, they said.

    A poll by the Ibope institute release Thursday showed 88 percent of Rio's residents supported the recent police action. Seven percent were unsure and only three percent disapproved.

    Published December 02, 2010 | Associated Press
    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/12/02/services-flood-slums-takeover/
  6. Terrapinzflyer
    Rio Riot Movie Breaks Records in Brazil as Police Invade Slums

    Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s movie industry is breaking records after “Tropa de Elite 2” lured 10.8 million people to theaters for a fictional account of corruption and violence in Rio de Janeiro just as the government invaded slums to fend off drug traffickers.

    The sequel to the saga of Bope, Rio’s black-clad special police forces known as “the skulls,” attracted so many viewers this year that it’s second only to the 1997 epic romance “Titanic” in attendance, according to Filme B Comunicacoes Ltda., operator of a website that collects data on the movie industry in Brazil. Interest in the film drove 2010 Brazilian box-office sales to 1.15 billion reais ($678 million) through Nov. 21, 18 percent more than in all 2009, according to Filme B.

    Almost seven weeks after its Oct. 8 premiere, “Tropa de Elite 2” proved prophetic. A 2,700-member strong police force raided the hillside shanty town slums known as Complexo do Alemao to halt a week of car burnings and street shootouts and attempt to end three decades of crime rule in the area.

    ‘It is a movie people needed to see,” said Filme B Chief Executive Officer Paulo Sergio Almeida in a phone interview from Sao Paulo. “It is an almost didactic movie about violence. It’s a movie that was in people’s unconscious.”

    Armed Forces

    The biggest security operation in the nation’s history ended this week after President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva authorized armed forces on Nov. 25 to deploy tanks, helicopters and 800 soldiers to Complexo do Alemao in a bid to clean up crime ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic games. At least 37 people died in the violence.

    The second part of the hit “Elite Squad” tells the story of Capt. Nascimento, Bope’s commander in chief, and his officers as they struggle to control areas riddled with shootings, murders, bombings and attacks on cars and buses. The film combines fact and fiction and includes references to violent acts, including the killing of Tim Lopes, an award-winning investigative reporter for Rede Globo TV. Lopes was burned to death by Rio traffickers in 2002.

    The movie “mixes things that happened 10 years ago, with others that happened last year, with yet others that are fictional,” said Jose Padilha, 43, the film’s director and co- producer, in a telephone interview from Rio. “These problems repeat themselves throughout time. The history of public security in Rio de Janeiro is a history of repeating tragedies.”

    Corruption

    While the fictional commander is promoted to state government only to realize his main enemy is no longer drug lords but corruption among his current and former colleagues, the raid scenes shown live on local TV haven’t yet reached a conclusion. Padilha said the movie is a warning of what may happen should authorities fail to make improvements to the prison system, police and education.

    “The movie has a second half in which, after fending off the drug trafficking, politicians take advantage of this in electoral terms, but don’t carry on the reforms in public institutions,” said Padilha. “If the reforms are not carried out, I bet we will also see” what occurs in the sequel turn into reality, he said.

    The original “Tropa de Elite” premiered in 2007 and won the Golden Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2008.

    The sequel cost 17 million reais to make and has earned 90 million reais in ticket revenue since the premiere, Padilha said. It debuted as the film industry benefits from a rise in discretionary spending in Latin America’s largest nation, driven by the fastest economic growth in more than two decades.

    As filmgoers continue to flock to “Tropa de Elite 2,” Padilha is already onto his next project. He is planning a movie about the biggest corruption investigation in Lula’s tenure, known as “Mensalao.”

    --Editors: Alan Mirabella, Laura Zelenko.

    December 02 2010
    By Fabiola Moura

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/20...records-in-brazil-as-police-invade-slums.html


    ________________________________________________________________

    I would recommend those unfamiliar with the realities of the Rio slums to do some (disturbing) reading. A good start is this article in the independent titled:
  7. buseman
    [imgl=white]http://www.drugs-forum.com/photopost/uploads/65766/Operation_Rio_de_Janeiro_-_4.jpg[/imgl]Officials Say Rio Slum Raids Netted 518 Weapons, 34 Tons of Drugs

    SAO PAULO – Brazilian security forces seized a total of 518 weapons and 34 tons of drugs in operations against drug gangs that controlled the Rio de Janeiro shantytowns of Vila Cruzeiro and Complexo do Alemao, police said.

    According to Civil Police figures cited by the state-run Agencia Brasil news agency, authorities found 200 handguns, 140 rifles, 73 revolvers, 35 machine guns and other firearms, as well as 38 grenades and 6 homemade bombs in raids carried out from Nov. 21 through Dec. 2.

    Police also seized 33.8 tons of marijuana, 313.9 kilos of cocaine, 54 kilos of crack cocaine and close to two kilos of hashish.

    A total of 118 people were arrested, including 21 minors, according to the Civil Police force’s figures.

    Drug-gang members burned cars and buses and carried out attacks on police posts in late November in retaliation for security forces’ efforts to flush them out of some of the teeming “favelas,” or shantytowns, in Brazil’s second-largest city.

    Authorities only intensified the raids after those attacks, which began on Nov. 20 when heavily armed assailants set up roadblocks, robbing passengers and then setting their vehicles ablaze in the middle of the street.[imgr=white]http://www.drugs-forum.com/photopost/uploads/65766/Police_at_Favelas_-_Brazil_-_5.jpg[/imgr]

    Aided by the Brazilian army, which supplied tanks, gear and soldiers, Rio de Janeiro’s police forces occupied Vila Cruzeiro and Complexo do Alemao, a group of 15 favelas with some 400,000 residents.

    According to official figures, 37 people died in what is being touted as the largest operation to date against Rio’s drug gangs.

    Public safety officials said leaders of the Comando Vermelho (Red Command) drug gang coordinated the attacks from maximum-security prisons.

    The operation to lay siege to Complexo do Alemao began when dozens of Comando Vermelho gang members armed with rifles took refuge in the slum after fleeing from neighboring Vila Cruzeiro, from which they were expelled by police in armored cars.

    The effort to pacify some of Rio’s most violent and crime-ridden shantytowns is part of a bid to clean up the city’s image before it hosts some of the 2014 World Cup matches and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

    12/4/2010
    http://laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=380767&CategoryId=14090
  8. Terrapinzflyer
    Brazil army to take up 'peacekeeping' in Rio slums

    The army in Brazil is to take on peacekeeping duties in the poor areas of Rio de Janeiro, which saw a week-long stand-off between security forces and drug dealers last month.

    Soldiers will patrol the Alemao and Penha districts to ensure hundreds of drug traffickers who had made the areas their stronghold would not return.

    Security forces arrested more than 100 people during their sweep of the area.

    It will be the army's first peacekeeping mission within Brazil.

    Defence Minister Nelson Jobim said the army would be able to draw on its years of experience heading the United Nation's peacekeeping mission in Haiti.

    Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has approved the army's continued presence, which was requested by the governor of Rio state, Sergio Cabral.

    He had earlier praised the joint police and military operation and promised it would only be the start of a campaign to rid Rio of drugs gangs.

    The Alemao and Penha districts have been a stronghold of drugs traffickers and virtual no-go area for police for decades.

    December 04, 2010

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-11920645
  9. Guttz
    Drug gangs escalate violence in Rio de Janeiro

    Go on offense together in backlash against city cleanup for 2016 Games

    [imgl=white]http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=18257&stc=1&d=1291681615[/imgl]RIO DE JANEIRO | The drug-gang leader jabbed around the muzzle of his .556-caliber Sig Sauer assault rifle as he talked.

    Yes, Jogador said emphatically, Rio's drug gangs are feeling threatened by the biggest police push against them in the city's history, a herculean effort to improve security before the 2016 Olympics.

    The heavily armed criminal gang he helps lead is being driven from long-held turf in the slums, leading to losses in cocaine and marijuana sales.

    What the 25-year-old career criminal said next, with a low laugh and a nodding of his head, struck at the heart of fears in this seaside city: He said Rio's gangs are preparing for a return to the city's most violent days.

    "You take any animal and put it up against the wall," he said, eyes ablaze, pointing the tip of his Swiss-made weapon toward a whitewashed ledge pocked by bullets. "Its last option is what? To attack."

    A radio attached to his black sports shorts began squawking wildly. Police had captured a lookout on the edge of the western Rio slum Jogador's gang rules. Young men with rifles and semiautomatic pistols were scurrying about, preparing for yet another police invasion.

    Jogador turned down the radio. It's hard to tell how much of what he says is bravado and how much is warning, but there is plenty of both.

    "Rio de Janeiro is going to get really small," said Jogador, who agreed to talk on condition he be identified by a nickname police would not know. "Rio de Janeiro is going to tremble."

    [imgl=white]http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=18256&stc=1&d=1291681615[/imgl]Rio is seeing violent, chaotic days. Just as Jogador, who spoke to the Associated Press two weeks before the recent clashes, said it would.

    Armed men have set up roadblocks in key areas — a highway leading to the international airport, an avenue running by the state government's headquarters, quiet streets in wealthier neighborhoods — letting loose rifle fire, tossing grenades. More than 100 cars and buses stopped in the dragnets have been set on fire, usually after their occupants fled.

    Police have responded by invading more than 20 slums, engaging traffickers in massive shootouts, killing at least 25 people, mostly suspected drug-gang members, and arresting more than 200.

    Authorities now control one of the most fortified slums where traffickers long ruled with impunity, and they are preparing to invade another that many fear will ignite an even bloodier battle.

    The scenes of urban warfare in Rio on the nightly news bring back memories of 2002, when drug gangs protesting the prison conditions of their incarcerated leaders shut down Rio, a city of 6 million people — twice the size of Chicago. They burned buses, sprayed government buildings with bullets and grenades, and sent out foot soldiers to warn businesses to close. Similar shutdowns went on for months.

    Now the three major gangs are preparing for another fight and, according to Jogador, are ready to end their bloody rivalries and join forces against the police.

    Rio's top security official and governor acknowledge that the battle is heating up — and that the gangs seem to be unifying.

    "These are classic acts of terror, an effort to create and diffuse a sense of insecurity throughout the city," said Paulo Storani, a security consultant who spent nearly 30 years on the police force and was a captain in an elite Rio unit sent in to clear slums. "The mass robberies, the burning of cars — these are just the beginning of a response by the drug gangs."

    The reason, security analysts say, is economics.

    For two years, police have invaded the slums and installed 13 permanent posts — not much in a squalid sea of more than 1,000 slums, but enough to make a point. The gangs are losing slums and the drug revenues they yield. The fear is that there is a tipping point when the gangs decide it costs less to fight the police than to give up the slums — and that that moment is at hand.

    Since September, armed men have carried out scores of mass robberies of motorists. The recent episodes are much more frequent than in the past and of a different nature. Few of the cars have been stolen. Instead, they are torched as vivid forms of protest, or motorists are ordered to hand over their keys, stranding the vehicles and clogging traffic.

    The gunmen then melt back into the city, leaving behind panic and chaos.

    Tension is growing as police prepare to go into the largest slums, which are the backbone of the gangs' operations. One, the Alemao complex, surrounds a road that leads to the international airport. On Friday, it was surrounded by police after officers invaded the neighboring Vila Cruzeiro slum and drove armed gangsters from there to Alemao. The other, Rocinha, is on the other side of the city, a sprawling mass of shacks on a route that will connect the main venues of the 2016 Olympics with the rest of the city.

    Both are densely packed, creating a human shield for the gang leaders. They also are havens for drug production and serve as lucrative distribution points.

    "They are not going to simply leave these areas and hand them over to police," Mr. Storani said. "Losing them would be a huge blow to the infrastructure of the traffickers. There is going to be a fight — and heavy fighting at that."

    A crowd of 300 slum residents said in white plastic chairs neatly aligned on a large concrete slab, chipped and faded blue paint on its surface marking the outlines of a soccer field.

    They were staring at something they had never seen: a government official addressing them. "We are here. Our presence here will remain. The police will no longer leave you. But the police alone cannot win this fight. We need your help."

    Rio state Public Safety Director Jose Beltrame, in charge of the armed security forces, stared intently back at the crowd, speaking in a staccato cadence, trying to pierce the cloud of doubt.

    "We can bring another reality here. That is not a political promise. We have already brought security and social services to other communities," he said.

    It was midmorning on a rainy Saturday in early November, and Mr. Beltrame, the architect of the police program to take over the slums, was standing in the Morro dos Macacos slum. He was there to celebrate the creation of his 13th police post in a slum, known as a Pacifying Police Unit, or UPP. This slum had been taken three weeks earlier without a shot.

    The crowd applauded after Mr. Beltrame spoke. Behind the claps, however, were worries.

    "The devil lives inside this slum. They've got to end the misery, the poverty. Look at this place, full of filthiness, just a mess," said Henrique, a slum resident who only gave his first name for fear that the drug gangs would return. "I hope that God gives these men the strength to change things here, but I don't have much faith they will."

    Antonio Carlos Costa, director of Rio de Paz, an anti-violence group, said the UPPs are by far the best development police have presented. But the big doubt, he said, is whether they can be sustained.

    "You need more police; you need better-trained and better-paid police," he said. "There is no way they can pacify all the communities. If you push the traffickers out of one area, they naturally just flow to another."

    Mr. Costa thinks Rio is at a moment of dramatic change.

    "We could have one of the scariest scenarios imaginable, that the gangs declare an all-out war and we return to the levels of violence seen in the 1990s, the most violent period of Rio's history," Mr. Costa said. "But we also could have a way out, with the international pressure to improve security before the Olympics, which should bring more money in to combat crime."

    By Bradley Brooks
    Monday, 6 December, 2010

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news...s-escalate-violence-in-rio-de-janeiro/?page=1
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