A new police operation against drug trafficking in a favela in Rio de Janeiro left 22 dead on Tuesday, a year after the deadliest operation in the city’s history, with 29 dead in another neighborhood. The Rio prosecutor’s office has opened criminal proceedings to “investigate the behaviorpossible violations of legal provisions, participation and individual responsibilities federal police during a joint operation with the Special Operations Battalion of the Military Police”.
Attack on the Vermelho Command
La Penha, north of Rio, woke up to the sound of gunfire after military police officers entered Rio’s massive favela complex in search of leaders of the Comando Vermelho crime group, the one of the most important in Brazil. Police say the officers were shot dead by the criminals in a raid that left at least 13 dead, including 11 suspected civilians, a neighbor from this slum area and another person of whom there are no details.
Later hospital sources put the number of people dead at 22, although several of them have yet to be identified. The victims were taken to an area hospital, where relatives went to identify the already lifeless bodies.
The objective of the operation, according to the authorities, was to try to dismantle Command Vermelho, a faction “responsible for more than 80% of the armed clashes” in the state of Rio de Janeiro. “He has an expansionist policy and an ideology of war. Not only against the police force, but also against other criminal groups,” said the military police spokesman, Ivan Blaz.
According to Blaz, Comando Vermelho began to protect drug traffickers from other states who “give orders” from Rio de Janeiro “to commit homicides in other regions” of the country and who allegedly hide in Vila Cruzeiro , within the Penha Complex . Vila Cruzeiro was one of Rio’s favelas occupied in late 2010 by the Brazilian army in a major drug-trafficking eviction operation, but the groups have gradually regained control of the area.
during the operationwho had shielded a “war arsenal” consisting of pistols, ten grenades and at least 13 rifles from China and Eastern Europe was seized who arrived in Brazil through international arms trafficking, as well as vehicles and motorcycles. “These are weapons that can kill people at long ranges,” Blaz said. So it happened with Gabriele Ferreira de Cunha, 41 years old and resident of the district, who she was walking down the favela when she was hit by a stray bullet.
In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, the Rio de Janeiro Public Ministry “urgently” requested information on “the number of agents who participated; the authorization of these agents, as well as a copy of their respective functional folders”. She also requested “the final report of the operation, as well as detailed information on compliance with the arrest warrants issued” when the criminal proceedings were opened.
Tuesday’s operation comes a year after a similar operation left 29 dead in the Jacarezinho favela, including 27 civilian suspects and one agent, in what was the deadliest police action in Rio’s history. Human rights organizations have denounced that during the operation in Jacarezinho, described as a “massacre”, there were cases of extrajudicial executions, abuses against detainees and destruction of evidence by the police.
“These police operations in the favelas endanger the lives of the entire populationprevent the operation of public services and commerce and do not solve any security problems,” said Guilherme Pimentel, consultant for the Rio de Janeiro Public Defender’s Office, which provides legal assistance to the families of deceased persons. “Operations like this would never be tolerated in wealthy areas of the city.they must not be tolerated in the favelas either,” added Pimentel.