18 dead in a police operation in a group of favelas in Rio de Janeiro | International
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A police operation in a favela complex in Rio de Janeiro that lasted 12 hours ended this Thursday afternoon with 18 dead, including a policeman and a woman who was driving in the area. It is the third deadliest operation in the city in just over a year. Some 400 agents have landed before dawn in the Complexo do Alemão neighborhood to dismantle a criminal organization dedicated to theft of cars, truckloads, jewelry stores and banks. Criminals have stood up to the security forces. And the exchange of shots has lasted about 12 hours while the neighbors, terrified, took refuge as they could in their precarious homes.
The spokesman for the Military Police of Rio de Janeiro spoke this Friday in an interview about the firepower with which the criminals received the security forces was such that in two hours their best agents ran out of ammunition. “By 7:30 am, the BOPE (the elite battalion) had already consumed all its ammunition given the intensity of the armed confrontation (…) I am talking about hundreds of rifles, tactical equipment, barricades,” Lieutenant Colonel Ivan Blaz told TV Globe. Images of alleys with the ground covered with shell casings circulate through social networks.
The boyfriend of the deceased told the newspaper Or Balloon how it happened: “She was at my house, in Penha [un barrio de Río]and we came here [al Complexo do Alemão] to have breakfast with my aunt. At that moment, the shooting broke out. We stopped at a traffic light and soon my car was shot at. They hit him in the chest,” she explained, still in shock.
Brazilian police are among the deadliest in the world. Last year more than 6,000 people died in their operations. He also leads the ranking of deceased agents. Several security forces participated in the incursion into the Complexo do Alemão, in addition to four helicopters and 10 armored vehicles. The agents arrested four people and seized a machine gun capable of shooting down a helicopter, four rifles and two shotguns. Some security forces, such as the São Paulo Military Police, are placing cameras on officers’ uniforms to combat trigger-happy. The results are, for now, promising. Rio began its implementation two months ago with cameras for more than 1,600 agents.
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The Public Defender’s Office has expressed concern about the high number of victims. He has released a note in which he warns that “there are indications of serious rights violations, with the possibility that this is one of the operations with the highest rate of deaths in Rio de Janeiro.” The 18 dead have only been confirmed at the end of the afternoon. Throughout the day the balance was five, but simultaneously circulated images of relatives of those shot moving them wrapped in sheets to be treated.
Two months ago, 25 people died in an operation in another Rio neighborhood, in Vila Cruzeiro, and in May of last year the deadliest in the city’s history took place, with 28 deaths in the Jacarezinho favela.
According to the Rio Ombudsman, the events that occurred this Thursday are similar to those that occurred a little over a year ago in Jacarezinho, where a uniformed officer also died in the middle of the operation. The data indicates that when an officer dies, police operations tend to be more brutal and end with a greater number of dead suspects.
Throughout the day the neighbors have been pouring out their anguish and their stories of the police raid on social networks with videos and testimonies. The police have reported after the criminals have set up fire barricades to prevent the passage of the agents. They have also sprayed the streets with oil to prevent it from advancing. Raids with deaths in poor neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro are frequent, many of them are dominated by drug traffickers or by the so-called militias, criminal organizations made up of former police officers. And the homonymous state is where the security forces are deadliest.
According to the police spokesman, the Comando Vermelho, the group that commands the Complexo do Alemão, is getting stronger thanks to its weapons and its power over its neighbors. They are neighborhoods in which the State is very little present. Lieutenant Colonel Blaz maintains that criminals “sacrifice these young people from the favelas to guarantee protection for their lives and freedom.” And he has graphically explained the magnitude of the challenge: “These operations are like trying to dry ice. But the fundamental thing is to have someone who tries to dry it out because if not, society is going to drown.”
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